Bruenig, McWhorter get it right!


A pair of accurate statements: You rarely see accurate statements.

Perusing the discourse of these end days, you'll see plenty of statements which are overstated or wrong. You'll also see statements which may be hard to paraphrase or to parse.

You'll rarely see statements which are accurate. Today, we refer you to two.

The first such statement comes from Elizabeth Bruenig, writing for the Atlantic

Bruenig wonders about the best way to persuade The Others to get vaccinated. Along the way, she makes the following statement:

"To persuade someone to do something, you have to present them with information that is persuasive to them, not strictly with information that’s persuasive to you." 

Given the way our faltering discourse works, we're scoring that, not just as an accurate statement, but also as an observation of extremely high cultural significance. 

McWhorter's statement is no less accurate—also, it's very important—but it's part of a tougher case. It appears as part of his discussion, for the New York Times, of the recent University of Wisconsin Boulder Removal Project.

Back in 2011, McWhorter was quoted describing himself as "a cranky liberal Democrat." In our view, he is perhaps a tiny bit cranky in his piece about the recent removal.

He makes sweeping statements about what various groups of people think and feel about the removal issue. It's hard to know how he can feel he knows what so many people believe.

Even so, along the way, he makes an accurate statement. Given the way our discourse currently works, his statement strikes us as very important. We'll shorten his statement a tad:

"Black people can be wrong."

Black people can be wrong? A sensible person might almost think that that would go without saying. But within the boundaries of modern Conventional Liberal Democrat Think, we often seem to act as if that obvious statement is wrong. 

We thought McWhorter got over his skis at various points in his discussion. Still, that statement struck us as one of the most significant accurate statements we've seen in a good long time.

We apologize for seeming to imply, without explanation or clarification, that there's actually some such thing as "black people."  We don't like to advance such assumptions, but sometimes you go to war with the failing discourse with the army of concepts you have.


  1. "Bruenig wonders about the best way to persuade The Others to get vaccinated."

    Why do dembots care who gets vaccinated and who doesn't? It's a mystery. Can you explain, dear Bob?

    "We apologize for seeming to imply, without explanation or clarification, that there's actually some such thing as "black people." "

    You apologize, dear Bob? What are you, nuts? You use such liberal-hitlerian lingo all the time. "White students", "black students" - sound familiar?

    1. There is such a thing as "black people"

      Who do you thinks votes the Right-wing snowflakes who tried to overthrow the Capital on January 6th, were crying about counting in the election as much as theirs?

    2. What, the dead people? So, dear dembot, "black people" in Zombie is 'dead people' in Humyn?

    3. "black people" is 'unhuman' to Conservatives.

    4. It takes one to know one, dear psycho-dembot.

      ...and as always, thank you for your zillionth confession in these here comment threads.

    5. A always, psycho-dembot at 6:57.

    6. "Why do dembots care who gets vaccinated and who doesn't?"

      I love you, Mao, but there's an obvious answer to your question. Other people are less likely to spread covid to me and my loved ones if they get vaccinated.

    7. Are you sure about that, David?

      We believe the latest 'scientific' doctrine is that the vaccinated are just as susceptible and just as contagious as the unvaccinated. All the vaccines do is reducing the symptoms. And therefore your decision to get vaccinated or not doesn't affect anyone else at all. It's just like your decision to eat (or not) 'healthy food' or exercise.

    8. David's comment is consistent with reality. Yours, Mao, is not. The latest studies show that those in areas with large numbers of unvaccinated people are more likely to become infected. The vaccinated are not just as susceptible and just as contagious. But if they were, your best tactic would be to get vaccinated so that the symptoms would not be as severe and so that you wouldn't die, because the science is very clear that vaccinations prevent severe covid cases and death. It would also be to wear those masks all the time, no matter where you are or who you are seeing. Because it is also clear that masks work to reduce covid cases.

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  2. Make it about something important to them.

    Like this:
    "If Right-wingers, like you, don't step-up and get the vaccine, they might die. Then who would deny people of color the right to vote?"
    Do whatever it takes to get the selfish, morons to help nip the virus in the bud.

    1. Tie getting the vaccines to something Right-wingers care deeply about, bigotry.

    2. As a pro-choice conservative, I tried convincing a pro-choice liberal cousin that in the long run, in order to maintain legal abortion, we have to convince many pro-life people to change their views. As long as a state has a majority of pro-life, they will find a way to ban abortion. That's democracy.

      My cousin labeled my comment "trolling". She thought it was anti-abortion. I think her view is that the only proper response is to demean people on the other side. The idea of treating people on the other side with respect is alien to her. Of course, you can;'/t convince someone, if you begin by insulting him,

    3. David, you are mixed up about this. First, the large majority of Americans are pro-choice, not pro-life. This is found in polls every year since Roe v Wade. According to Gallup, 75-80% have supported legal abortion in at least some circumstances since 1994. In 2021, the majority (49%) are willing to label themselves pro-choice.

      The problem is that Republicans, who are not a majority in most states, are able to pass restrictive legislation in red states because they control the legislature. In most red states, that is due to voter suppression, not voter support for what is essentially a less popular viewpoint across the populace.

      Now that Donald Trump has succeeded in rigging the Supreme Court, we can expect a great deal of voter opposition to decisions like the one they just handed down (via shadow docket). Republicans who support pro-life laws may find that they have trouble staying in office as opposition gains momentum, given that there is not clear support for pro-life views, even among Republicans. So, Republicans may find ways to ban abortion in order to appease their fundamentalist base, but that is going to get them in trouble at the polls. If the Supreme Court continues as it has, Congress will deal with the issue via legislation.

      It is not any kind of democracy when a minority, like pro-life Republicans, imposes its views on a larger majority through non-democratic methods, as has been occurring. People are not going to sit still for that.

    4. @3:47 - regardless of the nationwide percentages, a number of states have majority pro-lifers. Under the Constitution, when life begins is a state issue. although I'm pro-choice, Roe v. Wade was a horrendous decision, from a legal, Constitutional POV. It deserved to be overturned. I don't think SCOTUS will directly overturn it. However, I think they will permit state laws that make abortions difficult or impossible to get.

      Now, you can call these pro-lifers dumb or evil or undemocratic. That's might make you feel good. However, to successfully make abortion legal in all states, we need to change some peoples' views.

    5. I call them women haters. And not at all because it makes me feel good. In fact, it makes me feel sick to my stomach that such people are in positions of power.

    6. You can't even get conservatives to support voting. Why would they care what the people want?

    7. What if a majority of white people in a red state believed that they were superior to black people and made laws stigmatizing and discriminating against them. Would that be right simply because it reflected the majority opinions? If it conflicted with our constitution, wouldn't it be the duty of the Supreme Court to overturn such laws, regardless of the beliefs of the majority in that red state?

      Those pro-lifers in red states believe things that are entirely inconsistent with women's anatomy, such as that a rape-induced fetus is automatically expelled by the body. The ignorance and incorrect beliefs result in laws that are not simply unfair to women but harmful to them. Men are making such laws (women might know more about how their bodies work). Isn't it similarly the duty of the Supreme Court to protect women by overturning such laws, no many how many people in that red state held wrong beliefs?

      You cannot legislate truth or reality. Hopefully legislators should be sufficiently educated or informed (by their staff if not their own learning) to enact fair laws, consistent with the Constitution. These anti-abortion laws have not been well crafted because the intent is not to address a problem concerning pregnancy but to tell women what they must do or may not do with their own bodies, contrary to medical advice and other wisdom and ethics. These laws inflict the extreme views of a religious minority on women who do not share those views or belong to that religion or vote with that minority.

      The Constitution does not give those red states the power to do that. Packing the Supreme Court with conservative extremists who will not follow the law or adhere to the Constitution is wrong and is creating hardship for women. It is illegal and unconstitutional for the court to function as it is now doing. Framing this as the will of the people is very wrong, factually incorrect, but ultimately not even germane since the people cannot exert their will to write laws that are unconstitutional.

      David says he disagrees with Roe v Wade, but like it or not, it is settled law. The conservative justices said so during their confirmation hearings. All previous decisions have treated it as such.

      Abortion is currently legal in all states. Even Texas (before 6 weeks). We don't need to change anyone's views. We need to change the electoral college and eliminate the filibuster so that the majority can rule instead of a non-representative extreme minority in some lightly populated states.

  3. "Given the way our faltering discourse works, we're scoring that, not just as an accurate statement, but also as an observation of extremely high cultural significance."

    Somerby agrees with Bruenig's statement and scores it as accurate without providing any evidence or support for his judgment beyond that apparent agreement. There is an actual literature consisting of studies about how persuasion works and what will persuade and what will not. Those empirical studies shed light on what is accurate and what is not, not Somerby's opinion.

    Bruenig's statement sounds like common sense, and it resembles the kind of quip called an aphorism. That doesn't make it accurate. A lot of common sense turns out to be inaccurate. The best way to know what is accurate and what is not is to test such ideas in the real world. Opinions, even those of Somerby, are worthless without further investigation.

    Saying that the best approach to persuading someone is to present them with information that they find persuasive, is tautological. It still leaves the question of how one can know what will be persuasive to another person without first trying to persuade them? Using info that you find persuasive seems like a reasonable starting place.

    I think Somerby would do better to read someone who is an actual expert on persuasive techniques. Social psychologists study this. Bruenig cites none.

    Somerby neglects to tell his readers that Bruenig's article suggests not shaming covid anti-vaxxers and listening to them instead, and it goes on to present info that supports an anti-vax position, implying that it is a reasonable factual position that should be respected. Yes, this is exactly the kind of argument that Somerby responds to -- like the ones he called for in support of Trump true believers. Somerby once again tries to walk the thin line between pretending to want to convert covid deniers while giving a hearing to their mistaken beliefs and calling for respect for their claims. As if anyone were going to be able to persuade these people of anything! This is why Somerby comes across as a Trumptard and now, an illiterate pro-covid activist, instead of the liberal he claims to be.

    Somerby assumes that we want to convince these covid deniers to get vaccinated. Many of us have reached the point where we don't care what happens to them. They have chosen their path and are free to walk it, right up to the bitter end, insisting they do not have covid while covid steals their last breath. Bruenig doesn't know what she is talking about and neither does Somerby.

    1. Elba:

      “Many of us have reached the point where we don't care what happens to them.”

      Since “us” would appear to be “you”, I think you’re a pathetic twit. I’ve convinced people to get vaccinated, though I admit that it took time. But I didn’t just yammer at them. I spoke clearly, had mild arguments, got them to listen. I listened back, and held my ground until we had the next conversation.

      You, on the other hand, do not persuade.


    2. There are several articles in the news recently about widespread compassion fatigue for covid deniers and resentment toward those who are overtaxing medical resources through their anti-mask and anti-vax behaviors. "Us" refers to the people among those reading the comments here who are like those mentioned in such articles. It doesn't refer to everyone, and it seems to not refer to you, but it doesn't have to, since I did not say "All of us" or "Everyone."

      You would never convince me of anything if you started out by calling me a name you invented (Elba, which is the name of an island where Napoleon was imprisoned), which you intend as derogatory.

      I am happy that at least some of your friends have gotten vaccinated because that will make things safer for you. Meanwhile, you continue to miss whatever point I try to make. Since I am not writing for you, that is no big deal and you can feel free to call me names, safe in your self-satisfied bubble. Listening doesn't persuade -- it helps people feel heard so that they will be more open to whatever you say next. That might work if an honest disagreement or lack of info were involved, but that is not what is happening with these extremists. If it were, then Fauci would be convincing them, or their friends, or other reasonable voices. But that doesn't work with them.

    3. Leroy,
      How do you handle their bad faith arguments?
      That's always the hardest part for me.

    4. Sorry, anon 12:09. You reminded me of another anon (assuming you're not the same one) whom I named Ebola. Since you anons won't name yourselves, I choose to do it for you.

      I don’t “continue to miss every point you make.” You’re entire argument boils down to “Somerby is an asshole”, and you expound quite at length on that theme, just as Ebola did. The theme is so clear that, at times, I feel compelled to wade into the comment section here.

      Somerby can be monotonous. You are monotonous.


      12:00, patience. That’s how. It helps that I live in a small town, with local pharmacies that are giving away the vaccines on a walk-in basis. I’ve presented a sort of Pascal’s wager – what have you got to lose?

      But presenting the facts always helps, and mentioning that if this were some kind of conspiracy, then every single human being working at the CDC, the people who helped develop the vaccines (at taxpayer expense), the doctors and nurses working at hospitals everywhere around the world, would have to be complicit. You eventually get through, though I admit, I’ve only had one conversion.


    5. Here's one fact for you, dear dembot: Pfizer expects $33.5 billion in vaccine revenue this year. Their previous estimate was $26 billion.

      The only 'conspiracy' necessary for them getting billions by vaccinated those who don't need it (as previously infected people are perfectly immunized, much stronger than by the vaccine) is mass-zombification, which costs a small fraction of $33.5 billion, and of which you're apparently an enthusiastic spreader.

    6. McDonalds makes billions of dollars. Does that mean there is no such thing as hunger?

    7. Leroy, why would one person think he can choose a name for another person? Yes, I know that parents do it, but adults have the right to control that aspect of their identity. You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me R.J., but you doesn't have to call me Mr. Johnson.

  4. Is John McWhorter a "cranky liberal Democrat" as he claims? Here are his beliefs, summarized by Wikipedia:

    "McWhorter characterizes himself as "a cranky liberal Democrat." In support of this description, he states that while he "disagree[s] sustainedly with many of the tenets of the Civil Rights orthodoxy," he also "supports Barack Obama, reviles the War on Drugs, supports gay marriage, never voted for George Bush and writes of Black English as coherent speech". McWhorter additionally notes that the conservative Manhattan Institute, for which he worked, "has always been hospitable to Democrats."[15] McWhorter has criticized left-wing and activist educators in particular, such as Paulo Freire and Jonathan Kozol.[16] He believes that affirmative action should be based on class rather than race.[17] Political theorist Mark Satin identifies McWhorter as a radical centrist thinker.[18] McWhorter is an atheist.[19]"

    This leads to the question of whether someone who is majorly out of step with the priorities of the Democratic party can be considered a Democrat, whether writing pieces consistent with conservative views, for a conservative organization, is consistent with being a liberal Democrat, and whether self-labeling is all there is to affiliation with a group or taking on a political identity.

    There are several of these so-called liberal Democrats who have done this, including people like Bari Weiss and Glen Greenwald. McWhorter behaves, in many respects, like a conservative. That may explain part of his appeal to Somerby, who calls himself liberal while behaving like a conservative too.

    Somerby says:

    "We'll shorten his statement a tad:

    "Black people can be wrong.""

    Why doesn't Somerby present McWhorter's complete statement? It is less simplistic.

    But McWhorter goes on to say: "It’s a safe bet that nobody in Wisconsin assenting to have that rock hauled off thought the demand to move it made a whit of sense."

    McWhorter assumes that his own view of the matter must be shared by everyone else. This is the exact mistaken belief that Bruenig cites in her Atlantic article. She might have been talking to McWhorter, since he cannot conceive of anyone holding a different opinion than his own. What does McWhorter think the motive for insisting on the removal of a rock called "niggerhead" might be, if those calling for the removal are being insincere?

    McWhorter claims that it is only someone in an article 100 years ago who gave the rock that name. How does he know that it is not being called that today by residents of the area. How does he know that black people are not being confronted with that ugly name regularly in conversation or in references in print? Perhaps no one has had the nerve to call the rock "niggerhead" in McWhorter's presence, but does that really mean it is not a name in usage? And if it was once called that but that is an outdated reference, what is the problem with removing a reminder of the past mistreatment of black people? Why hang onto it? McWhorter doesn't explain that -- his article is about black people being wrong about racial issues -- a topic that clearly warms Somerby's heart.

    1. "what is the problem with removing a reminder of the past mistreatment of black people? Why hang onto it? McWhorter doesn't explain that"

      He does explain the problem with removing a reminder of the past mistreatment of black people.

      "These students’ critique suggests, among other things, that something that hurts you makes you weaker. Is that really what we want to classify as truth — essence? How can the same people who would lustily insist that Black people are strong get behind having a rock removed from their sight because of something some boob wrote about it some 100 years ago?"

      "Note the perfect absurdity of an idea that America is “coming to terms” with racism by having cranes laboring all over the country moving boulders to different spots"

    2. anon 12:30 - I take issue with many things you say here. I'm pretty sure you didn't read the McWorter piece, or the link he gives as his source. He says that the 42 ton rock that was removed (at a cost of thousand's of dollars) was characterized as the "[n word] rock" by a newspaper columnist in a local paper in 1925. He links to a school newspaper article, praising the decision to remove the rock. There is nothing in the school newspaper article that gives any hint that residents are calling the rock by that name currently, or that anything other than the 1925 newspaper item formed the basis for the rational for students to demand the rock's removal. Your statement that residents today might have called the rock by the offensive name is pure speculation - no evidence that was the case. The school newspaper article that McWorter links to (again praising the students, observing that they could now start the process of healing because the rock had been removed) notes removal of the rock was one of two "demands" by the students - the other was removal of a statue of Abraham Lincoln (!!). (Not clear whether the Lincoln statue has survived). A rock can't be racist. It's not like a statue of Stonewall Jackson. The removal of the rock was an example of over the top, ludicrous wokeness. It's Alice in Wonderland stuff. I also don't understand in what manner McWorter went "over his skis" as TDH asserts - he doesn't explain why he think that.

    3. AC/MA, you are not thinking. Of course I read the article, including the part you quote. It doesn't say the rock was ONLY called that in the newspaper, and there is no reason why anyone would ask for the removal of a rock that a single person back in 1925 referred to as looking like a niggerhead. If the name of the rock was Niggerhead Rock, then it should be removed.

      If you think this is much ado about nothing, try this one:

      "WASHINGTON — When Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) took friends, fellow legislators or campaign donors to his hunting camp, they passed the word “Niggerhead” painted on a rock. As the Washington Post reported Saturday, “Niggerhead” stood for the long-ago name of the Perry family’s hunting camp.

      Perry told the Post that the name had been blotted out with paint as soon as his father leased the property, the rock turned over to hide the traces of it. But the newspaper found multiple sources and some photographic evidence to contradict that claim..."

      This is a vestige of racism and it needs to be eliminated. Pretending that this is some big misunderstanding by black people (who can be wrong, Somerby agrees) permits racist dogwhistles to continue to exist during a time when hate crimes are increasing due to Trump's tolerance of the alt-right. A rock with that name is symbolic and needs to go.

    4. There is a lot more to this than McWhorter and Somerby are admitting:

      "There is no definitive account of when the rock first appeared on the property. In an earlier time, the name on the rock was often given to mountains and creeks and rock outcroppings across the country. Over the years, civil rights groups and government agencies have had some success changing those and other racially offensive names that dotted the nation’s maps."

      "Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen writes about how the U.S. Board of Geographic Names had changed many of these en masse 50 years ago (although, hilariously, they’d often just change “Nigger Creek” to “Negro Creek,” “Nigger Mountain” to “Colored Mountain,” etc.) New York State just got around to renaming “Nigger Lake” on government maps this past summer."

    5. anon 12:32 - I'll take my reasoning over yours. The school newspaper did state the name of the rock - I don't have access to the article right now and don't recall it, but it was a innocuous name, no scintilla of 'racism,' it may have been named after the geologist who wrote about its geologic significance. The rock apparently had some geological significance. You say that "there is no reason why anyone would ask for the removal of the rock that a single person back in 1925 referred to a looking like a 'niggerhead.' Well, at least we agree on that - only thing is that there is no evidence that anyone called it that name other than the guy in the 1925 newspaper. That there was "no reason" shows how loony things have gotten. That apparently was the basis for the demand that the rock be moved.The Rick Perry rock situation has nothing to do with this rock. And it seems to me that if a rock is defaced with a racist slur, the slur should be cleaned off the rock, not that $50,000 should b3e spent to remove a 42 ton rock. That they "demanded" the removal of the Lincoln statue evidence the nuttiness of the whole woke event.

  5. "Black people can be wrong? A sensible person might almost think that that would go without saying."

    Then Somerby goes on to claim that liberals act as if they don't know that this is possible.

    But of course black people can be wrong. Look at Omarosa and Kanye and Herman Cain! Look at Diamond and Silk. Look at Lil Wayne, Ice Cube and 50 Cent. Or Byron Donalds, Burgess Owens, Candance Owens, or Mia Love.

    A steady 13-23% of black voters have voted Republican, consistently, since Democrats were the party of racism before the civil rights eras of the 1960s. Why did so many black men support Trump?

    "The reasons for the appeal range from Trump’s in-your-face bluster; machismo and misogyny; defiance of tradition; and reality TV–style outrageousness. In the eyes of Black Republicans, Trump focuses on values and issues they hold dear. “Government didn’t get me off the streets,” Donalds said in a campaign ad. “Trust in God did, love of family, personal responsibility, and hard work.” Trump checks all those boxes, and the fascism is beside the point, especially if the alternative is a Democratic Party viewed as just as racist, if less overt about it."

    So, of course black people can be wrong. And of course liberal Democrats recognize that. That doesn't make the current racial justice movement wrong, nor does it make calls to correct racism in daily life wrong either. And John McWhorter doesn't speak for all black people any more than any of these other unfortunate Republican black voters.

    Of course, Somerby doesn't dare argue any of this on the issues. He thinks that a black man saying that black people can be wrong is all the support he needs for his mistaken views. No actual arguments needed, persuasive or otherwise.

    1. "of course black people can be wrong. And of course liberal Democrats recognize that."

      SO patronizing and condescending. Sad. Really sad.

    2. I'm not sure the words patronizing and condescending mean what you think they mean.

    3. That makes perfect sense.

  6. My kids are half black and half white but all their fellow classmates at school think they're Mexican.

    1. Would your kids enjoy being called "niggerhead"? Somerby says it shouldn't matter, since a rock was named that such a long time ago.

    2. Somerby said it shouldn't matter if my kids would enjoy being called "niggerhead"? I didn't know he said that.

    3. It is in the article that Somerby touts. McWhorter says that the issue of removing a large rock that has been called "niggerhead" should be moot because it all happened so long ago, dismissing the movement to have that rock removed. Somerby says:

      "McWhorter's statement is no less accurate—also, it's very important—but it's part of a tougher case. It appears as part of his discussion, for the New York Times, of the recent University of Wisconsin Boulder Removal Project."

    4. Yes, I read the McWhorter op-ed. I just didn't know Somerby said it shouldn't matter if my kids would enjoy being called "niggerhead".

      In the University of Wisconsin case, no one was calling the boulder "niggerhead". No one had called it that for decades. So why would Somerby say it shouldn't matter if my kids would enjoy being called "niggerhead"? That doesn't make sense. Are you alright?

    5. That's like saying Somerby said it shouldn't matter if my kids would be afraid to sit at segregated lunch counters.

      I get it though. You don't like Somerby. But you should maybe try a little harder and think things through a little more before you try to pin him as a racist. Otherwise it is you who comes off as an overzealous, slandering fool.

    6. Somerby pins himself as a racist -- no help needed.

      Did you read the John McWhorter article? Somerby says he agrees with him and that his statement is correct, just like Bruenig's statement that black people can be wrong (lifted out of context). What did McWhorter say? You really cannot evaluate Somerby's essay without knowing that -- and notice that Somerby doesn't actually tell us. That's on him.

      But if McWhorter (and Somerby by extension, who has called him "accurate") thinks that the word "niggerhead" is no big deal, safely buried in the past, trying applying it to your kids and see how you would feel about it. That simple exercise of imagination shows you what is wrong with McWhorter and Somerby's argument about racism being gone.

    7. The question is if you read McWhorter's op-ed or not. Clearly, you didn't. You should. He explains himself clearly and does not make an argument racism is gone. He explicitly says "racism persists in our society in many ways". His point is it is performative to "treat a rock as psychologically damaging because of something someone dug up written about it at a time when people lived without antibiotics, television or McDonald’s."

      You're not super together, are you?

    8. anon 10:26. I'm missing your logic. Some newspaperman in 1925 refers to this rock (which apparently had some geologic significance) as a "niggerhead rock." No evidence of the rock's taintedness other than this 1925 newspaper item. Because of this 1925 item, was the big rock converted into the equivalent of a statue of Robert E. Lee? It's a 42 ton rock. Does this mean that whenever it is learned that someone called some rock a racist name, that rock should be banished? Call a tree an [n-word] tree - cut it down! As I noted above, the students had made two demands - get rid of the racist rock whose presence was causing them all this anguish, the other to get rid of the Abraham Lincoln statue. So a newspaper in 1925 published a newsman's item referring the this rock as a niggerhead - is that a "big deal?" I wouldn't condone it, but it wasn't the rock's fault. I frankly don't see how that happening in 1925 can be "applied to my kids." Your suggestion doesn't make any sense. You make one irrational, baseless claim after another. Your final sentence is a two-part absurdism. The "simple exercise of imagination" that someone is supposed to make is unintelligible. Neither TDH nor McWorter have ever said that "racism is gone." And how this unintelligible "exercise of imagination" is supposed to show that TDH and McWorter are wrong when they argue that "racism is gone" when they never said any such thing - Q Anon type logic on your part.

    9. Unless you live in the area, you don't know whether that term was only used in 1925, then abandoned up until the present, or not. If the name were not still in use, why would people be making a face now? How would they even know about it, if it were not still used?

      Somerby is not praising McWhorter for his views on Abraham Lincoln. That isn't what his article is about. It is about the rock.

      My point is that the name was offensive then and it is offensive now. To gain some empathy about how it affects people, I suggested that you try applying it to your kids. If you wouldn't call your child that name, it is offensive to those to whom it has been applied, historically and in the present. It should be a no-brainer that black people don't like being called the n-word, even when it is applied to a rock that resembles a black person's head.

      And no, I am not unintelligible, except to the deliberately obtuse.

      Is there evidence that racism is not gone? Yes, it is evident in the opposition to removing the rock. And yes, Somerby has said such a thing.

      And by the way, the newsman didn't refer to the rock as a niggerhead. He referred to the rock as Niggerhead Rock, which implies that this is what people of that day were routinely calling it, that was its name, not the newsman's impression of what it resembled. Small changes like this can have a big impact on meaning.

      I don't have strong feelings about whether Abraham Lincoln's statue should remain or not. Even if he was not quite the champion of civil rights that he has been portrayed as, he did save the union and he was a martyr to that cause. I would prefer to see history taught in a more balanced way. I learned in college what Lincoln's feelings about blacks and slaves were, but that could be taught in high school and thus become more widely known, replacing current myths that protesters seem to find objectionable.

    10. "His point is it is performative to "treat a rock as psychologically damaging because of something someone dug up written about it at a time when people lived without antibiotics, television or McDonald’s.""

      You have no evidence that is what happened. Unless you live in that area, you do not know whether the rock is still being referred to that way, or not. You are making an assumption that seems unlikely to be correct, but is self-serving to those who wish to portray this kind of protest as overblown.

      McWhorter has made many statements about preferring to deal with class instead of race and against the actions of those who are pursuing racial justice. This is something that Somerby no doubt finds attractive in his work, since Somerby feels the same way (although he hasn't supported class issues either). It is a tenet of the right that the fight for civil rights was over by the 1970s and that the biggest injustice these days is reverse racism against white people. McWhorter doesn't say that, but he tends to agree that civil rights is no longer an important issue for black people, but poverty needs to be addressed.

      Recently, I have been posting some links to info about why racism is an issue distinct from class and financial inequality. Most recently, it was the link about how black people are disadvantaged by the way FICO scores are calculated and how that prevents their accumulation of wealth through homeownership, the way white people do. McWhorter is not correct, as Somerby asserts, because there is a great deal of evidence that when you control for class, race still exists as an explanation for disparities in our society.

    11. "a time when people lived without antibiotics, television or McDonald’s"

      a time when people took colonialist attitudes for granted and considered themselves superior to not just blacks but also Irish, Hungarians, Italians and just about anyone not from England.

      a time when you could just go out and lynch any black person who got "uppity" or was in your way

      a time when women and children were consider property of their husbands and birth control was thought to be from the devil

      a time when reading the bible and doing basic arithmetic was all the education anyone needed and girls weren't sent to school but were needed to help their mothers with the latest baby

      a time when niggers were never called "Mr" and had to use the back entrance to any establishment, even in the North

      a time when fathers beat their sons to teach them to be men

      what is your point? that we are too modern now to still call black people niggers? look around you

      how did not having McDonalds justify racism?

  7. Digby has an article on the right's attempts to take over school boards. Today this is using CRT and mask mandates as a pretext, but this goes back a long time according to Right Watch:

    "Religious-right activists and other right-wing groups have long viewed public schools and colleges as culture-war battlegrounds. This year’s campaign to mobilize school board takeovers is reminiscent of school board wars that raged during the 1990s, when religious-right groups made a determined effort to take over school boards across the country to combat what they claimed was liberal indoctrination in schools."

    Somerbys various attacks on public education can be seen in that context, as part of a culture war in which the right seeks to discredit the job being done by existing public schools, which they see as dominated by members of the left wing.

    In all of his writing here over Trump's four years in office, Somerby never said a word about Betsy DeVos or any issue aside from the lack of success of black students in public schools, and more recently, what Somerby portrays as an attempt to kick Chinese students out of special high schools while broadening access for other minorities (who he continually characterizes as unable to do the work).

    It is time to see this for what it is, a blatant attempt to fight the culture war here on Somerby's blog, with Somerby advancing the right's agenda (no matter that Somerby used to refer to "those ratty teachers and their infernal unions"). Add this to the list of conservative causes that Somerby has been advancing, while claiming to be liberal.

    1. And Kevin Drum fights the culture war himself, taking John McWhorter's word that phonics is not being taught because of liberals. Read the comments at Drum's blog. It is amusing to see a bunch of untrained people pretend they know something about education because they once attended school.

      Phonics was the CRT of its day. The stick used to beat on public education and those dirty liberals.

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  9. No matter what the facts are, people choose not to believe them, no matter how you present them.

  10. "Washington Post: “Nationally, covid-19 deaths have climbed steadily in recent weeks, hitting a seven-day average of about 1,500 a day Thursday, after falling to the low 200s in early July — the latest handiwork of a contagious variant that has exploited the return to everyday activities by tens of millions of Americans, many of them unvaccinated.”"

    During the last surge, Somerby argued that reporters were inflating the reporting of the number of deaths. I wonder how he feels about the current rolling average. It seems unlikely Somerby will care about the increasing number of deaths, since he has never discussed the right-wing death cult or urged mask wearing or even talked about school mask mandates. He perhaps only cared about the rolling average before because it reflected poorly on Trump.

  11. IMO there's something terribly wrong with black student political activism, even when directed at less-silly goals than the stupid rock. When I was in college, I was too busy studying to save the world. Thanks to Affirmative Action, the average black student is admitted with much lower college board scores than the average white or Asian student. So, the average black student should be doing even more studying and should have even less time for political activism.

    1. "Thanks to Affirmative Action, the average black student is admitted with much lower college board scores than the average white or Asian student."

      Please cite a source for this statement.

    2. For Harvard:

      "By comparison, white admits earned an average score of 745 across all sections, Hispanic-American admits earned an average of 718, Native-American and Native-Hawaiian admits an average of 712, and African-American admits an average of 704."

      That is a very high average score for African Americans. The average score for ALL white applicant, not just those admitted, was 712. That means that the average African American student admitted to Harvard had scores closely similar to those of white Harvard applicants. A score of 704 would be entirely sufficient to enable a black student to do well there. Recall that this is the average, not the lowest or highest score of black students admitted.

      David refers to affirmative action, but it seems more likely that black students are admitted with lower scores because of their skill in athletics, music, art, or other activities that it considers in its application process. David, are you arguing that these should not be considered for applicants? If you are, that will upset the NCAA and handicap college sports.

    3. The most widely used form of affirmative action at elite universities is admission of legacy offspring and relatives of former graduates. For obvious reasons, this occurs most often for white applicants.

    4. Are Jody Foster and James Franco white or black, I forget?

    5. Those black students should work at least as hard as Somerby did at Harvard when he was racking up all those gentleman D’s.

  12. “Bruenig wonders about the best way to persuade The Others to get vaccinated.”

    Somerby seems to be implying that The Others only listen to (and reject) liberals, and that liberals are being mean to “The Others”, rather than trying to be persuasive.

    But most of the vaccine hesitation is occurring in red states, which are under the control of GOP legislatures and governors. Have they been successful at convincing the hesitant, seeing as they are ideological soulmates? Apparently not.

    And if the argument “get the vaccine to help prevent you, your loved ones, and your community from contracting and needlessly dying from covid” isn’t persuasive, then I don’t know what else should move people.

    That is why we don’t try to persuade parents to vaccinate their kids or wear seat belts. We just mandate it because it’s sensible public policy.

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