FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2021
But then, so did everyone else: Yesterday afternoon, shortly after 5 P.M. Eastern, Nicolle Wallace decided to pleasure the tribe.
In the old days, Wallace pleasured the other tribe, supporting such undertakings as the war in Iraq and statewide referendums banning same-sex marriage. In her contemporary incarnation, she services our tribe—Us.
On several occasions, Wallace has explicitly said that, in her role as a "political communicator," she says things she knows are untrue. (For one example, click here.) Experts say this is a large part of what we the humans are.
Wallace is very good at her job. As a downside, her statements and presentations aren't always perfectly accurate. Yesterday, she offered a rather shaky account of a recent dispute in Virginia.
She spoke to Maya Wiley. Like the famous werewolf's hair, her talking-points were perfect:
WALLACE (10/28/21): Maya, I want to read you some more about this Virginia governor's race from the New York Times:
"A new online ad released this week by Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate, features a mother who pushed to have Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” banned from her son’s English curriculum eight years ago. To Democrats, the Youngkin ad was both a throwback to the days of book banning and a coded insult to one of America’s most celebrated Black authors, after months of frantic Republican alarms, in Virginia and nationwide, about how schoolchildren are being educated about racism."
I watched Field of Dreams during the pandemic with my third grader, and there's a scene at the beginning about banning books. And he said, "What are they doing? I mean, with the Internet, why would you ban anything?" And I thought that was such an insightful thing for a third grader to ask.
This whole debate is so phony, is so bogus. It's exactly what Matt [Miller] said—it's all about white grievance. How do we engage at a substantive level with something that 1) is rooted in disinformation, and 2) is rooted in racism?
(We show you the quote from the New York Times exactly as Wiley read it. As we'll note below, it includes an edit which could be viewed as strategic.)
That was Wallace's presentation. Concerning the matter at hand, it included all the mandated points. According to Wallace's presentation:
1) The woman in the Youngkin ad had tried to get a book banned. She'd been engaged in "book banning."
2) The woman's concern stemmed from her racism. It was the work of "white grievance."
3) The book in question had been written by one of our most celebrated authors.
That was the heart of Wallace's brief. It hit most of the mandated points.
As we've noted in the past few days, the woman in question hadn't been trying to get the book in question banned. Nor had she questioned the literary merit of the book in question.
In her comments about the book, the woman had cited a certain aspect of its sexual content. She had also seemed to say that she expected her son to be taught about slavery in his public school.
Different people will have different ideas about the woman's complaint, and about her proposal. That said, it's hard to find something good to say about what Wallace did yesterday, or about what the rest of our fragile, flailing, failing tribe has done in the past week with respect to this suddenly high-profile matter.
What has our failing tribe done? In typical tribal fashion, we've rewritten this story to involve certain mandated tribalized points:
The woman's complaint had to be about race. It had to be an artefact of her racism, of her white grievance.
The woman had to be trying to get the book banned. She had to be involved in "book banning."
The uglier strain of our ugly minds quickly adopted those mandates. Along the way, we added various irrelevant elements to our pathetic but Standard Group Tale.
Wallace was reading from a news report in yesterday's New York Times. Below, you see the unedited text as the report began:
LERER AND EPSTEIN (10/27/21): In the final days of the tight race for Virginia governor, the candidates are turning to the unlikeliest of campaign props: a novel from 1987.
A new online advertisement released this week by Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate, features a mother who pushed to have Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” banned from her son’s English curriculum eight years ago, citing the book’s graphic scenes. When that failed, she started an effort that eventually became a bill passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, but that was rejected by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat now running to win back his old job.
“It gave parents a say—the option to choose an alternative for my children,” the Northern Virginia mother, Laura Murphy, says in the ad. “But then Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed it twice. He doesn’t think parents should have a say. He said that. He shut us out.”
Left unsaid in the ad was that the mother and her husband are Republican activists, that their son was a high school senior taking advanced placement English when he read the passages that supposedly gave him nightmares, or that he later went on to work briefly in the White House under former President Donald J. Trump and now works for the G.O.P.’s congressional campaign committee. Also unmentioned was the novel in question: a Pulitzer Prize-winning fixture of the American literary canon—by a Nobel Prize-winner, no less—whose harrowing scenes conveyed the horrors of slavery, a subject with obvious historical resonance in Virginia.
To Democrats, the Youngkin ad was both a throwback to the days of book banning and a coded insult to one of America’s most celebrated Black authors, after months of frantic Republican alarms, in Virginia and nationwide, about how schoolchildren are being educated about racism.
That's how the news report began. Concerning that report:
It included a wholly irrelevant fact—a fact which quickly became a part of our tribe's Standard Narration. (The woman's son "later went on to work briefly in the White House under former President Donald J. Trump and now works for the G.O.P.’s congressional campaign committee.")
It stressed the literary prominence of Morrison, which was never an issue in the woman's complaint or proposal.
It went out of its way to note that the book in question dealt with "the horrors of slavery." It didn't note that the woman's point of concern involved "harrowing scenes" in the book involving bestiality.
It strongly stressed the "book banning" theme, without attempting to explain what the woman had actually sought.
In fairness, Lerer and Epstein did include a passage providing a tiny glimmer of what the woman in question had sought. ("The option to choose an alternative for my children.”) This glimmer was very vague.
It also included a tiny possible glimmer of the nature of the woman's objection to the book. (She had cited "the book's graphic scenes." Perhaps not taking any chances, Wallace edited that short phrase out.)
Lerer and Epstein never reported that the woman's objection to the novel's assignment in high school involved a matters of sexuality rather than a matter of race. To some extent, we'd have to say that they went out of their way to avoid noting this fact.
They never reported, in a clear way, that the woman had sought the right to have her son assigned some other assignment. Instead, they pushed the "book banning" theme.
Wallace took it and ran. The woman's objection had been grounded in "racism," the old-school homophobe pleasingly told us. This is The Story our tribe widely tells as we hurtle along the road toward moral and political perdition.
Yesterday, the Washington Post and the New York Times were full of the "disinformation" Wallace pretends to abhor. One journalist after another providing our rapidly failing tribe with the story we childishly long to hear about The Racist Book Banner.
Perhaps the most appalling performance came from Ron Charles, a thoroughly intelligent book critic for the Washington Post. But there was also Charles Blow and Philip Bump and Alexandra Petri, oh my! The tribe was rampaging through the pea patch reciting Our Novelized Tale.
Morrison is widely hailed as a great novelist. (We haven't read her books.) However great she may be, she has nothing on the instant novelists who populate our own hapless tribe.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but Our Tribe is perhaps a bit dishonest. "It's the nature of all human tribes," despondent top experts all say.
Wallace has said that she plays it this way. We'd show you Wiley's reply, but what she said went on and on, and because Wiley is sharper than the average bear, it's depressing to think about what she said.
This is the way our tribe behaves. Our tribe is a great deal like theirs.
We humans are wired to loathe The Others. Disconsolate experts glumly suggest that there's no way out of this mess.
Drum's post dealt with a different topic. Eventually, one commenter offered this:
COMMENTER: ...For Republicans, the truth of a matter is not important, all that matters is if they can get a few more of the faithful out to vote by scaring the bejeebus out of them.
To see this, all you have to do is look at the current Youngkin broadside aimed at a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by a Nobel Prize winning author. Because of course we have to protect college bound high school seniors from reading such a work, they might get a realistic idea of what slavery was all about.
They don't care about the truth, he declared. At that point, he followed them down.
"In her contemporary incarnation, she services our tribe—Us. "ReplyDelete
Somerby is not part of us, not part of our tribe. He repeats conservative memes and attacks liberal ideas and generally defends the miscreants on the right. Whether he does this for money or out of conviction, he is not liberal.
The evidence that Wallace said things she knew to be untrue rests on a quibble over whether Mueller called Trump's acts of obstruction of justice, which were enumerated in the Mueller Report, crimes or just acts the president committed. It is true that Mueller refused to classify Trump's behavior as crimes, but it is also true that he found that Trump did those things. The conclusion that these acts of obstruction of justice were in fact crimes can be drawn by anyone reading that report.ReplyDelete
This quibble over terms cannot be the basis for calling someone like Wallace a knowing teller of untruths when she draws the obvious conclusion that everyone else has drawn (except conservatives) and accurately states that Mueller listed those 10 acts of obstruction by Trump.
This is how flimsy Somerby's complaints about the press have become. He should be ashamed to present this sophistry under his own name.
"she says things she knows are untrue. (For one example, click here.) Experts say this is a large part of what we the humans are."ReplyDelete
In this sleight of hand Somerby goes from calling Wallace a liar to calling everyone else one too. Is this a "large part" of what humans are? Of course not. If there were not largely truth-telling among humans, our society could not function. People mostly tell the truth, not vice versa.
Somerby, however, tells slippery lies here every day. Because that is a large part of what he is, evidently.
Somerby is also slippery because a) Murphy did try to get the book banned and b) the current school policy does in fact allow a student to opt out if they are uncomfortable with the assigned book.Delete
"2) The woman's concern stemmed from her racism. It was the work of "white grievance."ReplyDelete
Actually, the quote says that Youngkin's repetition of the woman's concern is coded, a dog whistle, that rests upon "white grievance".
Here is what the quote says:
"To Democrats, the Youngkin ad was both a throwback to the days of book banning and a coded insult to one of America’s most celebrated Black authors...This whole debate is so phony, is so bogus. It's exactly what Matt [Miller] said—it's all about white grievance."
Nowhere does Wallace say that the woman's complaint was about white grievance or racism, although it clearly is in my opinion.
This is how Somerby puts words into other people's mouths.
"It stressed the literary prominence of Morrison, which was never an issue in the woman's complaint or proposal."ReplyDelete
This is exactly the heart of the issue. Morrison used figurative language, symbolism, repeated themes that relied on the idea that people who are treated like animals (as slaves) will come to think of themselves as animals and even behave like animals. That is central to Morrison's writing, her use of imagery, and her analysis of the effects of slavery. The so-called bestiality is about that theme of equating people with animals, central to the main point of the book.
In Somerby's 1960s, there was a popular song by The Fugs, sung in an appalachian style, a love song to Claire June, in which a besotted youth promises to "...give up heifer-fucking for you." In fact, cow-tipping and the same kind of bestiality portrayed in Beloved is endemic to jokes about rural love. A woman who pretends that Morrison is presenting something new and shocking to her teenage son is making herself seem ridiculous. It is like pretending a book caused her son to learn to masturbate. This is another reason why this whole debate seems so manufactured to adults, if not to Somerby (who pretends to share this mom's innocence). The rest of us know when we are being conned.
More people should question if this tale of the upset son is true, since it emerged in a campaign commercial right before an important election.ReplyDelete
It strikes me as swift boating.
When a parent demands the option of choosing "an alternative," it means requiring that the teacher prepare two books instead of one, which is twice as much work for the teacher. In the case of an AP class, it deprives the student of knowledge needed to pass the AP exam (and get college credit for the course at some universities). It means the student will also have to miss class discussions of the book everyone else was reading, including those problematic passages, so it isn't just a matter of reading something else.ReplyDelete
"Morrison is widely hailed as a great novelist. (We haven't read her books.)"ReplyDelete
What a surprise! Maybe Somerby should read them. Perhaps then he wouldn't be so quite to side with the forces of evil in these sorts of debates.
Somerby quotes a comment from Drum's blog:ReplyDelete
"To see this, all you have to do is look at the current Youngkin broadside aimed at a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by a Nobel Prize winning author. Because of course we have to protect college bound high school seniors from reading such a work, they might get a realistic idea of what slavery was all about."
They don't care about the truth, he declared. At that point, he followed them down...
In my opinion, reading the truth about slavery should be shocking. Slavery itself was shocking in its evilness. The practices were shocking and the effects on both the slaves and slavery society were also shocking. If one loses the capacity to be shocked by the evil people do to each other, we lose the ability to know right from wrong.
Somerby no doubt wants to insist that Murphy was only complaining about the "bestiality" but that seems unlikely given the extreme efforts the South in particular and the right along with it has gone to in order to prevent kids from learning about our nation's history of slavery, Jim Crow, and the lingering effects of slavery.
But this woman is willing to take it to the limit to prevent her grown son from learning about heifer-fucking? I don't think so. Something is wrong with that picture.
And Somerby is in the position of arguing that white people in the South don't really care about slavery any more, that thet are letting bygones be bygone over that one, but are up in arms about "imagery" in a novel that attributes animal qualities to people (instead of vice versa). And I cannot see how anyone can call that "harrowing". The parts of the book that are truly harrowing are supposedly not what this woman is objecting to, Somerby argues. She can't stand the idea of cows being abused, but is OK with humans being enslaved. Well, that one I can sort of buy.
Could there maybe be books about slavery for high school kids that don't include graphic bestiality? Something seems off about people insisting that bestiality be included.Delete
Beloved didn't include "graphic bestiality".Delete
American slavery was bestiality; those slaves were human beings, just as capable as any white, but they were viewed as animals by their masters, raped at will.Delete
"they might get a realistic idea of what slavery was all about"ReplyDelete
We have a modest request, dear Bob. We would like to lean more about liberal-hitlerian cult's destruction of the most successful African state, Libya. It happened not long ago.
And about the gruesome murder of one of the most famous anti-colonial heroes, Mr Kaddafi. Y'know, dear Bob, "we came, we saw, he died", as the Psycho-Witch, your cult's leader, joked.
Are there any Nobel Prize-winning books describing these events in the school library?
Kaddfi was killed by a faction of his own people during his country's civil war.Delete
Really, dear 12:05 PM dembot? And what was "we came, we saw, he died" all about then; care to explain?Delete
Also, similarly, people were turned into slaves by a faction of their own people. Case closed, right?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.Delete
12:02 Modern Dems don't like Hillary, check out her runs for president, but that response to Gaddafi's death was an off the cuff joke. Trump and his party have made worse remarks and shown less sensitivity on too many occasions to even count, it is routine for them.Delete
Trump is a corrupt global capitalist/grifter, Gaddafi pushed his own form of socialism and was anti-capitalism; you seem to admire both, pick a side or go the fuck home, you confused moron.
We were asking for a book, not word-salad, dear dembot.Delete
Trump is a capitalist. Gaddafi was a socialist.Delete
You claim to idolize both. Which one is your hero?
Answer as you like, the question is rhetorical, it points out what a ridiculous and ignorant moron you are.
So, can you recommend a Nobel Prize-winning book about liberal-hitlerian cult's destruction of the most successful African state, Libya?Delete
And about the gruesome murder of one of the most famous anti-colonial heroes, Mr Kaddafi -- murdered by "we came, we saw, he died" Psycho-Witch, your cult's leader?
Can you, dear dembot? It' not clear from your word-salad.
We have no idea why you'd care, dear dembot, but if you really must know: we only worship Satan. Satisfied?Delete
So, any advise about a book about liberal-hitlerian cult's destruction of the most successful African state, and the gruesome murder of one of the most famous anti-colonial heroes, Mr Kaddafi, by your "we came, we saw, he died" Psycho-Witch H.Clinton?
Mueller said it wasn't his place to call the president a criminal. He didn't say the president was exonerated or that he committed no crimes. Somerby reads Mueller the way conservatives do, as exonerating the president. What does that tell you about Somerby?ReplyDelete
Mueller was a Republican and a Trump appointee who did his duty to the party by giving Trump wiggle room, while also enumerating what Trump did. He tried to serve both his profession and his party and wound up letting Trump skate on his crimes. Mueller will not be treated kindly by history. Somerby, meanwhile, pretends that Trump didn't obstruct justice. What a maroon.
"In the old days, Wallace pleasured the other tribe, supporting such undertakings as the war in Iraq and statewide referendums banning same-sex marriage."ReplyDelete
It is not necessarily true that Wallace pleased the other tribe with such views when many Democrats, including Clinton and Obama, held these same views. Democrats have changed but Republicans have not. This doesn't mean that Wallace was two-faced but that she changed her views along with many other Democrats.
Somerby assumes that "our tribe" is monolithic and he attempts to characterize all liberals by the views of the more progressive or more socially permissive on the left. It is somewhat akin to the way conservatives want to call all liberals "communists" when only small segment of the left holds such views.
As Somerby both ages and continues his life's work to manufacture ignorance, let's note:Delete
1) He did not say "pleased", he pointedly said "pleasured" which is generally associated with physical sensation, it is an odd phrasing in light of his support for the virtue signaling Virginia mom. (let us also note that the state claims that "Virginia is for Lovers")
2) Among Millnenials and Gen Zers, communism/socialism is as popular as capitalism, and capitalism is trending down. Furthermore, communism/socialism ideas are popular even among those that claim to be conservative; indeed, some of the most popular and revered institutions and policies are based on communism/socialism. The core tenet of communism/socialism is a diminishing of hierarchy, in particular those that are arbitrary, and those that are forced.
Here is a different perspective on Dave Chappelle and cancel culture:ReplyDelete
While I think many criticisms of Somerby in the comments typically prove his point about tribal derangement, in this case I think he is being a bit too literal, missing the obviously coded nature of the "aggrieved" parent's complaint. The right is pretty clearly banking on just this sort of interpretation by their base and anyone listening casually. In other words, they are counting on most listeners having themselves internalized a certain novelization. IMO, they want all the assumed implications that Somerby claims are the result of our side's tribal embroidery. The performative "restraint" or "caution" in the parent's statements is there for plausible deniability only. In most cases other than this, I am fully supportive of Somerby's critique.ReplyDelete
You think there are Trump voters that could be persuaded to vote Dem if only we didn't call out their racism and sexism?Delete
You think society is progressing well enough and that concerns over racism and other forms of oppression are not just overblown, but virtue signaling?
These are the two main notions Somerby pushes with his daily nonsense vanity blog.
I don’t want to overhype this post but it’s quite possibly Bob’s worst, most dishonest ever. Bob is the lizard king here, playing his readers for rubes. In fairness it’s hard to imagine anyone falling for it.ReplyDelete
So what DID the Republican activist parents, who sent their kids to work for Trump, have to say? How did the sexual content give the chronology near adult nightmares?
Racism gets conflated by the left, anyone should be open to arguments of that happening. All we see here is, once again, Bob is hyper sensitive about his confederate ancestors and becomes hysterical with hatred if they are slighted.
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