MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2022
The journalism of race: In her column in yesterday's New York Times, Maureen Dowd was trying to help.
She cited three well-known Democratic strategists—David Axelrod, James Carville and Stanley Greenberg.
Are Democrats facing disaster in November's congressional elections? According to Dowd, those strategists have been "speaking out with startling candor about the impending Repubocalypse."
According to Dowd, disaster may be approaching—and many observers agree. Here's the start of what Dowd was told by Carville:
DOWD (2/20/22): Carville, still a Ragin’ Cajun, took time out from his Mardi Gras planning to reiterate points he has made in a Vox interview and elsewhere: Democrats should not be defined by their left wing or condone nutty slogans like “Defund the police.” They should work not to seem like an “urban, coastal, arrogant party” indulging in “faculty lounge politics” that appeal to reason rather than emotion and use “woke” words like “Latinx.”
“Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,” he said of the battle among Democrats that ended up with voters firing three far-left school board members who mandated a long break from in-person learning during the pandemic and who wanted to rechristen schools named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
“They’re not popular,” Carville said of such far-lefties, adding in a line spoken directly to them: “People don’t like you.”
“Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,” Carville said.
In fact, most people in San Francisco didn't vote in that recent recall election. On the other hand, the three school board members who appeared on the ballot were all removed from office by votes of more than seventy percent!
Should that recall election serve as a warning sign for Democrats? You can judge it as you wish.
But why may such people—such "far-lefties"—perhaps be broadly unpopular? Consider the tweets of Alison Collins, who was removed from the board by a vote of 79 percent.
We don't recommend piling on people when they're down. But over the course of the past year, Collins came under special fire in San Francisco for a set of tweets she posted in December 2016, long before she was elected to the board.
The tweets, which resurfaced last March, were seen as being insulting to San Francisco's Asian-American citizens / neighbors / voters / colleagues / friends. Joe Eshenazi's account of the matter strikes us as admirably fair, but along the way, and with our apologies, Collins had tweeted this:
Many Asian Americans believe they benefit from the "model minority" BS.
In fact, many Asian American teachers, students and parents actively promote these myths. They use white supremacist thinking to assimilate and "get ahead."
Where are the vocal Asians speaking up against Trump? Don't Asian Americans know they're on his list as well?
Do they think they won't be deported? profiled? beaten? Being a house n****r is still being a n****r. You're still considered "the help."
Oof! According to Collins' tweets, many Asian Americans had been engaged in "white supremacist thinking." And not only that! According to Collins, these San Franciscans had been behaving like a bunch of "house [N-words]."
Collins wasn't on the board when she authored those tweets. On the board, she played a role in various unpopular decisions and behaviors.
Some of the oddest of these behaviors tend to get skipped in the recent news coverage. According to the leading authority on this topic, one such behavior was this:
During its meeting on February 9, 2021, the school board questioned whether a gay teacher, who was father of a biracial child, would add diversity to an all-female parental advisory committee of volunteers, on the ground that he was white and would temporarily tip the racial balance of the committee. Collins was "adamant" that he should not be appointed, although 5 of the 15 positions were vacant at the time, to which no one else had applied. The board discussed the issue for two hours, despite other pressing issues such as school reopening, before rejecting the candidate.
For two hours, the school board fiddled while Frisco burned! Collins had been "adamant!"
(Is that a fair account of what happened? We've been fact-checking other gong-shows all weekend. For KGO's account of this matter, you can just click here.)
Sometimes people make unfortunate statements. People may issue unfortunate tweets.
At their best, Collins' tweets were unhelpful. Other actions by the school board were broadly unpopular—unpopular all the way down.
As Carville noted to Dowd, it doesn't help when our "far-lefties" send racialized insults into the world. That said, it may not help when our anti-lefties issue such comments as this:
DOWD: Carville is also flummoxed that Republicans could defend the Jan. 6 madness as “legitimate political discourse.”
“Ninety-eight percent of people on the Mall on Jan. 6 were white,” he said. “We need better white people in the United States.”
Are Republicans really defending the January 6 madness as "legitimate political discourse?" In our view, this pleasing, tribally mandated claim is quite hard to defend.
Concerning Carville's fiery claim about the need for better white people, we'd tend to agree with this early comment to Dowd's column:
COMMENTER FROM UNDISCLOSED LOCATION: About 70% of the country is white and about 70% of them didn't go to college. So, about half our voters are non-college whites.
It's a helluva political strategy to make half the country your enemy. Good luck with that.
We'd be inclined to agree with that assessment. We had a similar reaction to Carville's remark when we read Dowd's column.
According to one of our tribe's far-lefties, many Asian-Americans in San Francisco behave like a bunch of "house N-words." According to one of our tribe's anti-lefties, we need better white people in this country of ours.
According to experts, both remarks are part of what is known to future academics as "the racialization of everything." According to those disconsolate scholars, it's a cultural practice which is hard-wired into our brains, and is therefore "all too human."
Many observers have said that the school board recall vote—in San Francisco, no less!—should serve as a warning to our flailing tribe. Experts say there's little chance that any such warning will be widely heeded.
Our nation is sinking deeper and deeper into a deeply destructive tribal war. According to experts, our own tribe rarely helps itself with its treatment of racial topics and issues.
Such topics are everywhere at the present time. We have the San Francisco school board vote, and the lawsuit brought by Brian Flores.
We have Whoopi Goldberg's comments about the Holocaust, and her subsequent suspension from The View. We have the sentencing of Kim Potter, and the anger that sentencing caused.
We have Joe Biden's search for the next Supreme Court Justice; we also have the public reaction to the way he's conducting his search. We have ongoing issues of gerrymandering and the role sometimes played by race.
Parts of our tribe are baldly performative when it comes to matters of race. Parts of our tribe are angry.
Given the sweep of our history and the shape of our discourse, the anger is understandable. That said, resulting conduct may not be helpful, and reactions may not always be wise.
Meanwhile, the journalism of race continues to be little short of amazing. In almost any matter involving race, our tribe is now subjected to highly selective reporting—to reporting and punditry which seem to come to us Straight Outta Storyline.
Tomorrow, we'll start with the following question as we explore that journalism—the journalism of race:
What is happening in the schools Michele Tafoya's children attend?
That strikes us as an interesting question—until our tribe steps in.
Tomorrow: Last November, on The View, an imitation of life