Re: Defensiveness

1

It's staggering how defensive students feel about racism.

There's a group of people who have deliberately encouraged white people to see any mention of race that supports anything vaguely "liberal" as "reverse racism." It's transparent bullshit, but it shouldn't be that surprising that a few people believe it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:07 AM
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Laying bare the degree to which their position is not due to merit will always feel like a personal attack to someone who buys into the meritocratic myth or it's cousin the just world fallacy. I wonder if the a good approach to talking about these thing might be to work to undermine the just world fallacy through talking about obvious (and non-racial) instances of people getting ahead by dumb luck or being shit on completely by accident. Once it's established that things aren't fair you can look at the ways in which the unfairness disproportionately hits people of color. And then you give them all a pony.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:11 AM
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This is neither here nor there, but Shannon Gibney is a transracial adoptee and activist for adoptee rights. I think she's basically awesome, and it's been sort of strange to see worlds collide with this story, but it's been a good way to get some conversations about white privilege started in the adoptive parent communities, where those students would generally fit right in.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:13 AM
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But "dumb luck" sabotages the point a little bit: they've got an utter blind spot around anything structural operating in society.

The language of personal responsibility/growth is incredibly damaging on a group level (and yet kind of empowering occasionally on an individual level don't hate me).


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:15 AM
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I'd like to see a trend in which successful, famous people, give testimony about how they got to where they are, not just through hard work and perseverance, but also through privilege and dumb luck. But you almost never hear that angle from people at the top of the heap.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:26 AM
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Asking successful people why they're successful is stupid for any number of reasons, not least survivorship bias.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:34 AM
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Part of the problem is that a whole lot of white people have now been raised to think that (a) not being racist=colorblindness, and (b) that talking about or even noticing race=racism. That is seriously a big part of the standard ideology, even for people who arent necessarily conservative yahoos.

So, although of course white kids notice race, noticing that they've noticed race is taboo, and then having people actually talk about race violates the taboo and is itself racist -- "hey! She's being racist! She's talking about how I'm white!"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:36 AM
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Obligatory misuse of MLK speech.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:40 AM
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I'm surprised she didn't use the standard, "Oh, we're talking about racism in society, I'm sure you're not racist at all. Racist asshats."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:42 AM
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I actually developed a little bit of a theory about this recently. I don't know how strongly I hold these beliefs. They're just ideas.

I think white people sense that there's a big division in society and that results in distance and mistrust that's painful to them, even if they could scarcely understand that this set of emotions is present in themselves, much less articulate them out loud. My black-from-Africa, ethnically ambiguous coworker described an interaction she usually has with African-American people where they're like, "what *are* you?" and she goes through a complicated explanation about her background and in the end they're like "oh, you're black!" and then they decide to relax and be themselves. And listening to this I was conscious in myself of some mild pain and jealousy about exclusion -- that on the basis of my skin color I was someone not to be trusted. (I know, I know, hah, hah, hah, guess how it feels from the other side.) And there's nothing I can do to change that, really.

In the case of class/SES, virtually everyone can construe themselves as a have-not when that's the position that's psychologically comfortable, because there are always people who are much richer. (And can flip their construal when the opposite is true.) There's not one clear bright line that excludes you or makes you a bad guy. Thinking about class and money doesn't make people face the reality of their estrangement from other people as starkly.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:46 AM
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Asking successful people why they're successful is stupid for any number of reasons, not least survivorship bias.

Its stupid if you are doing it to figure out how to be successful. But I think if you are doing it as a means of undermining the cultural narrative of meritocracy, there are some possibilities there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:46 AM
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Why would the main beneficiaries of the cultural narrative of meritocracy want to undermine it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:48 AM
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I feel like I should have concluded:

And denying that racism is really happening or important at all is a way of dealing with the discomfort. The estrangement isn't real, or if it is, it's because of the delusions of the other guys.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:49 AM
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I wonder why it is that the most-quoted portion of the I Have a Dream speech is the most aspirational and the least referential of failures by individuals and by systems. Oh, wait.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:50 AM
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Yeah, that's a problem. One hopes that some of them might be helpful because they already got theirs.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:51 AM
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12: As one of the people in question, I'd have to say that knowing the world as it actually is is in itself worthwhile. Also there are people better off than me who I very much dislike and consider beneath me in any true scale of merit. And finally there's a the fact that it feeds the self doubt that I can't quite shed and would almost miss at this point.

That last is probably not a big selling point for the great unwashed, but the first and second might be.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:54 AM
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14 -- yes. Also, note that noticing race=impermissible racism isn't just some fringe belief held by conservatives; it's (basically and imprecisely but still) the understanding of civil rights held by the law and the US Supreme Court.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:57 AM
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Warren Buffett, who is over-praised, is nonetheless pretty good about understanding how "meritocracy" works:

I was lucky. I was born in the United States. The odds were 30 or 40-to-1 against that. I had some lucky genes. I was born at the right time. If I'd been born thousands of years ago I'd be some animal's lunch because I can't run very fast or climb trees. So there's so much chance in how we enter the world.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:58 AM
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Anti-anti-Oedipus:Post-Fordist Subjectivity pdf, Mediations Journal

Championing difference and identities, the post-Fordist structure collapses the distinction between subjectification and desubjectification. Indeed, processes of desubjectification are often more appropriate and lucrative for post-Fordist economies than subjectification and we can thus suggest that one fundamental characteristic of post-Fordism is the effective institutionalization of desubjectification. It is for this reason, as we will see, that resistance and anti-capitalist critique become increasingly difficult to think. It is because we cannot simply link desubjectification and resistance that the psychological conflict I will trace in this essay emerges and that we must feel compelled to complicate rigorously our understanding of categories such as difference and desubjectification and analyze them in their precise functions in the context of post-Fordism

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:01 AM
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Huh?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:02 AM
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noticing race=impermissible racism isn't just some fringe belief held by conservatives; it's (basically and imprecisely but still) the understanding of civil rights held by the law and the US Supreme Court

This seems to presuppose that the legal doctrines of our US Supreme Court aren't fringe beliefs held by conservatives. At least in some cases, that's plainly wrong.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:30 AM
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19: If these are post-Fordist times, does that mean we lived through the entire dystopia of Brave New World and I didn't notice it?

Also, is de-subjectification the same as objectification?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:32 AM
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more on 22.1: ...because I would have wanted to catch some feelies and go on a soma holiday.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:33 AM
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21 - Fair enough, though anti-racism=colorblindness is more mainstream, I think.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:36 AM
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MCTC administration is totally clueless and fucked up. Which is a shame, since there are lots of great teachers there, as well as plenty of students who are really struggling to get an education, and could use a leg up. Don't even get me started on how messed up their Admissions and Financial Aid departments are. It's an open scandal!

It is not clear to me if there is much in the way of a local organized response to this particular event. I know some serious activist people who are aware of it, and have asked them about what's going on.

One thing about this mess is that white male students at MCTC have kind of a history of being really creepy about race, much more so than you would expect at a community college in a liberal big city. Part of that is probably that the student body is so racially diverse, and within certain majors skews pretty far towards everyone being either African-American or Somali. So there's a bit of a bunker mentality for white guys there, ridiculously, since downtown Mpls is right outside the door and you can easily walk to many jobs where everyone is white.

I'll let y'all know if I hear anything more through the grapevine.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:36 AM
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22.2:Self-objectification via subjection (to Gibney)

I think. I am still reading the article.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:37 AM
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Warren Buffett, who is over-praised, is nonetheless pretty good about understanding how "meritocracy" works:

See also Bill Gross (quoted by Kevin Drum):

In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today....Congratulations. Smoke that cigar, enjoy that Chateau Lafite 1989. But (mostly you guys) acknowledge your good fortune at having been born in the '40s, '50s or '60s, entering the male-dominated workforce 25 years later, and having had the privilege of riding a credit wave and a credit boom for the past three decades. You did not, as President Obama averred, "build that," you did not create that wave. You rode it.

And now it's time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions....If you're in the privileged 1%, you should be paddling right alongside and willing to support higher taxes on carried interest, and certainly capital gains readjusted to existing marginal income tax rates. Stanley Druckenmiller and Warren Buffett have recently advocated similar proposals. The era of taxing "capital" at lower rates than "labor" should now end.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:40 AM
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Cher credits her longevity to a simple notion: luck.

"I really believe it's luck," she said in a new sit-down interview with CBS News' Edward Lawrence. "I think it's luck. It doesn't make any sense that it's not. I think you have to be lucky because I do what I do and it's all well and good but it's not rocket science. It's just something. I believe it's 50 percent luck."


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:47 AM
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It's luck all the way down. Why are some people smarter than others? Luck. Harder working? Luck. Better at self-motivating? Luck. Better under stress? Luck. Where nature or nuture, it's all still luck.

Can I individually, choose to practice until I become a better public speaker, or learn to code, etc., through hard work and practice? Sure. But whether I'm the sort of person who will or won't do either of those things? All luck.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:02 AM
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WhereWhether nature or nuture


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:03 AM
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From article in 19

(remember my discussions of "otaku" database culture)

Lyotard claims that cybernetics and the new hegemony of computers necessitate the translation of knowledge, if it is to remain operational, into quantities of information. The consequence of this is an increasing "exteriorization of knowledge with respect to the knower." "Knowledge," says Lyotard, "is and will be produced in order to be sold; it is and will be consumed in order to be valorized in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange. Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its 'use-value.'" What Lyotard understands as the "exteriorization of knowledge" corresponds to what Sennett describes as the disappearance of traditional skills (which for Sennett are corporeal skill, mostly relating to manual or Fordist labor).

Knowledge is only accumulated in order to be exchanged, without a direct implication for the subject who has accumulated the knowledge. This
emptying out of traditional use-value of knowledge forms the basis of the anxiety of post-Fordism and, as we can see in Fight Club, constitutes the form of post
-Fordist alienation that lies at the heart of the anxiety of the post-Fordist subject

1) Knowledge in order to be exchanged, for example, knowledge of structural racism is valued as social capital in particular discourse environments. Nobody much cares if the gaining of such knowledge changes or improves you...or cares if object of education personally profit from the accumulation.

2) Yeah sure, this is "what about the white men" But that is exactly what the OP was entirely about, about achieving some sort of dialectic or dialogue with the white men, and perhaps we can start by an act of recognition, of approaching them as subjects rather than the objects and artifacts of structural racism. I do not really know what that might entail.

3) Whatever, you don't want this


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:04 AM
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Huh?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:14 AM
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33

Personally, I am starting to rethink any sort of narratives of 'progress' when it comes to concepts of race and racism. My guess is most white Americans have the same attitudes they had towards Black people in the 1960s, however the system is such that it gets expressed differently and often more mutedly now that the system of legal apartheid has been officially dismantled. (Or maybe simply just shifted? Racialize incarceration in the US is pretty awful and gets woefully little attention given the humans rights abuses committed.)

But one of the biggest hypocrisies among my fellow white people is how we expect people of color to shrug off endemic, pervasive racism, but then get into a snit when anyone might suggest for a second that white people aren't or shouldn't be the default, superior position, much less any actual 'reverse racism.' "The Bell Curve" or even Steve Sailor types get far more respect than they deserve and are seen as "stating unpleasant truths" which at minimum deserve civil refutation after serious consideration, yet, say, Prophet Elijah's racial theories are immediately denounced as racist hate speech, and anyone who demanded people consider them seriously would immediately lose their job and become a pariah. (Even though, well, white people really probably are albino mutants, evolutionarily speaking, although I might not put it that way exactly.)


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:19 AM
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Watch six episodes of Sailor Moon and then hit yourself in the head with a copy of "The Sublime Object of Ideology." It will all make sense.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:21 AM
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34 to 32.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:21 AM
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"post-Fordist" = experiencing a hangover caused by one of one's drunken stupors


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:25 AM
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My guess is most white Americans have the same attitudes they had towards Black people in the 1960s, however the system is such that it gets expressed differently and often more mutedly now that the system of legal apartheid has been officially dismantled.

I hate to be simplistic, but you do know the President of the United States is black, right?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:26 AM
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(And the countdown 'til someone claims I'm saying we live in a post-racial society begins now.)


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:27 AM
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37: are you suggesting that could not have happened in the 1960s?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:29 AM
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39: Yes!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:29 AM
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I hate to be simplistic, but you do know the President of the United States is black, right?

I hate to be simplistic, but you do realize that a large chunk of our country is heading towards outright revolt, right?


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:29 AM
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33, 37, 39: Yeah, I think there's room for things to have gotten much, much better than they were in the '60s, while still being very bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:30 AM
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41: I realize this is not the most way productive way of phrasing this, but,

Is not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:31 AM
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41: Compared to the 60s when you had to send the National Guard to protect school children?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:32 AM
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I realize this is not the most way productive way of phrasing this, but,

I realize this is not the most way productive way of phrasing this, but,

Is too. (It all depends on what you are trying to produce.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:33 AM
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44: Kent State was in 1970 not the '60s. Read a book!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:34 AM
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47

The US is, in aggregate, less racist when it comes to things like electing people because we have WAAAY fewer white people as a proportion of the electorate than we did in 1960. It's not because, on the whole, white people are more willing to elect a black president. So no, having a black president doesn't prove that white people in the US are, on the whole, less racist.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:36 AM
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48

Should I have said "federal marshals"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:36 AM
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49

I don't think the 28 percenters are really headed for outright revolt. They are and excitable bunch and prone to grandiose statements but even though they have all the guns they fundamentally don't have the actual balls to do much of anything.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:36 AM
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43 and 45 are nicely put.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:37 AM
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Britta, I think you're falling into the Richard Coehn fallacy. What he called the conventional view isn't gone, but it's definitely more marginal than it used to be.

There's still a long way to go, and assholery (active and merely negligent) abounds.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:37 AM
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47 is obviously true. Maine only voted for Obama because of all the black people living there now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:40 AM
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The US is, in aggregate, less racist when it comes to things like electing people because we have WAAAY fewer white people as a proportion of the electorate than we did in 1960.

Obama got 40% of the white vote in 2012, which is about the same as the percentage of the white vote Clinton got in 1992.

If we were looking at an electorate where white people voted for Obama at the rate they would have in 1965, it would have been more like 10-15%, not 39%.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:40 AM
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51

No, I actually think it's making a come back. The war against political correctness is winning, and being overtly racist is becoming more acceptable than it was in the 1990s. Yes, there are some changes, and interracial marriage is one of them. Again, we no longer have a system of legal apartheid, which has made real differences. However, people may not use the same language or express things in the same way, but I don't think there's been a fundamental 'de-racistification' of the US in the way that lots of people, including me, thought there had been.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:41 AM
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Sometimes these impressions can be confounded by age and experience.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:45 AM
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54: More racism now than the 90s is way different from as bad as the 60s. I think you're still wrong, but your second phrasing is in the realm of possible to argue about.

My sense is that if you thought there had been a fundamental end to racism in the 1990s, you were flat wrong then -- what you're seeing now isn't worse than the 1990s were, it's that in the 90s, the really egregious past was more recent, and so the 90s looked good by comparison.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:47 AM
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54 -- I've been disappointed in our progress since 1979, both for the fitful pace and the occasional lapse. I don't think, though, that the arc is bending the wrong way right now. I think what's happened is that the President has brought some people out of the closet -- there were always people shouting about Al Sharpton, of course -- and so it looks like there are more racists than before. The strongest constituency for harder racism is dying off, though.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:48 AM
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Are these really so different?

1960s: "In 1963, King had a 41% positive and a 37% negative rating; in 1964, it was 43% positive and 39% negative; in 1965, his rating was 45% positive and 45% negative; and in 1966 -- the last Gallup measure of King using this scalometer procedure -- it was 32% positive and 63% negative."

2012: "CNN reported, for example, that exit polls showed 39 percent of white voters casting ballots for Obama, compared to 59 percent voting for Gov. Romney. Other outlets highlighted that 88 percent of Romney voters were white, making it seem like a landslide of that population voted for him."


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:49 AM
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Yes. Having a positive rating for somebody is completely different from voting for them in a presidential election.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:50 AM
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58: Specifically among Georgia Republicans, MLK now has favorability of 59%.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:51 AM
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56

No, I didn't think racism was 'ended' in the 90s.* I simply assumed that we were progressing towards open displays of racism becoming less publicly acceptable. This is reversing, in that public displays of racism are now becoming more and more acceptable. Attitudes that people had assumed changed were simply dormant, and have cropped up again now that there is a more acceptable climate to express them. We have Republicans actively trying to reinstate the Poll tax in numerous states, and much of the work previously done by Jim Crow has been incorporated into the prison-industrial complex. We're of course not the same *as* the 60s or returning to the 60s in exactly the same iteration, but much less has changed than most of us good liberals like to acknowledge.

*I grew up reading the Southern Poverty Law magazine and had no illusions about that.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:57 AM
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Re: Obama and the white vote:

It's important to take into account that this is highly regional.

Check out this article for more information, including a useful infographic.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:58 AM
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war against political correctness is winning, and being overtly racist is becoming more acceptable than it was in the 1990s

This runs so counter to my experience that I don't know where to begin.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:58 AM
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The infographic is still useful, despite the fact that its creators don't seem to be entirely sure where DC is.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:00 PM
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We have Republicans actively trying to reinstate the Poll tax in numerous states...

If you mean the voter ID requirements and the like, the difference isn't the public's attitude, but the Supreme Court's asshole-level.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:00 PM
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In the 1990s, Jesse Helms was in his third decade of being my senator and was doing shit like this.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:02 PM
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57 is how I look at things when I'm feeling optimistic.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:02 PM
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(I guess I do know where to begin after all)


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:04 PM
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46, 48: Just after posting that, Twitter delivered this recently unearthed Springsteen performance of a song he wrote about it, "Where Was Jesus in Ohio".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:05 PM
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Dayton?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:06 PM
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It's not so much that "public displays of racism are now becoming more and more acceptable", but rather that the racists have become trickier, and better at hiding their intentions through legislative sleight-of-hand. Every supporter of Voter ID laws will vigorously deny (in public, at least) that there is any racist intent behind those laws, and such denials run counter to the idea of racism becoming "more acceptable."


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:08 PM
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What apo said.

Speaking of people's reaction's to the truth, I got a not too pleased sounding voicemail from a hotel manager about this.(cached version, looks like the original was taken down) I should be probably be a bit more diplomatic when talking to victims.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:11 PM
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To 71, the Voter ID fans are really just trying to get Democrats of all sorts to not be allowed to vote. Being black is one indicator of being a Democrat. Being a student is one indicator of being a Democrat. Being poor is another. Just like you can get-out-the-vote for your candidate based purely on demographics rather than knowing the individual people you're getting out, you can suppress the vote that way.

In Texas they're even trying to reduce the numbers of women voting because it's correlated to being a Democrat, but that will probably blow up in their face since there's millions of female Republicans as well.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:12 PM
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Yeah, 73 is more on target than 71. In the unlikely event that African-Americans started leaning Republican, R's would bend over backwards to get out the A-A vote.

That said, a lot of Republicans are not especially committed to the basic idea of popular democracy, as demonstrated by the growth of the "Repeal the 17th Amendment" trend.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:20 PM
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Even extensive intermarriage and mixing of races is not going to end racism, as Brazil and India show.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:21 PM
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72.2: He left his car in a hotel parking lot for two weeks?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:21 PM
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Not that we don't have mixing at the moment, but whiteness could become a continuum, which it mostly isn't now.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:21 PM
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76: Yeah. Not a good idea.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:24 PM
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Did they charge him for parking or he just wanted free, secure parking?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:29 PM
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54, 56 and following: If the 90s were less racist than the aughts or tens, it was because demographic trends hadn't yet made themselves as apparent as they are now. Frankly, white-bred constituencies hadn't yet been quite as fired up by movement conservatism.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:30 PM
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No, I didn't think racism was 'ended' in the 90s.* I simply assumed that we were progressing towards open displays of racism becoming less publicly acceptable. This is reversing, in that public displays of racism are now becoming more and more acceptable.

I think you should consider the possibility that you were more hopeful in the 90s ("simply assumed") and have been exposed to more (evidence of persisting) shittiness since then if only by virtue of the fact that more time has passed, and perhaps also by virtue of your being more frequently exposed to a wider spread of people. That means your impressions would reflect a trajectory of a disappointing lack of progress rather than of a population-wide regression. Jesse Helms was elected a LOT of times, you know?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:33 PM
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white-bred

They still make white people the same old way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:36 PM
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4: But "dumb luck" sabotages the point a little bit: they've got an utter blind spot around anything structural operating in society.

I don't see how "dumb luck" sabotages the point. Newbies to the notion of structural inequality need to be instructed on its reality and operation.

Heavens, don't sociologists have some ways of introducing these concepts to students that gently, gently, apprise them of their prior ignorance?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:38 PM
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79: Those places aren't charging for parking. I understand why he's pissed there's not some kind of measures, but come on man, two weeks in that kind of lot? Not surprisingly, my job involves frequently explaining the obvious.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:40 PM
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Re - perceiving the 90s as have less overt racism: how many commenters here were at university during part of the 90s? That could definitely skew how much in-your-face racism one encountered. Depending on the school, of course.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:41 PM
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If you want to see another "racist map of America" use the 2008 NYTimes election map and use the "voting shifts" tool to see the difference between the 2008 and 2000 elections. Though the country as a whole became more Democratic, there are some conspicuous red areas (AZ, OK, AR, TN, LA, Tx north of Houston, Appalachia, big chunks of AL and GA, and the FL panhandle). Most of it in what I call the "racist belt": bounded by the Missouri Compromise line, the Gulf Coast, the TX/NM border and the Atlantic.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:41 PM
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For many religious people, isn't luck more or less equivalent to God's will?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:42 PM
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I refute myself thus.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:43 PM
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87: True, especially Calvinists.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:47 PM
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Possible, though I spent my adolescence attending Southern Poverty Law center conferences and watching political talk shows, so I was not very sanguine about the end of racism in the 90s. The existence of Jesse Helms et al in the 90s doesn't disprove my point at all though. My point is that we're not considerably less racist than we were in the 60s (maybe 1960 is too early, since the the Civil Rights legislation did make an impact, but I wouldn't push it back past 1970), not that the 90s were some magical time of no racism and now we're getting worse. That there was considerable racism in the 90s and still exists considerable racism today is a variation of the same point. Though, as I remember, the narrative around Helms outside of S. Carolina was we were kind of waiting for the original segregationists to die off, and then things would be better. 20 years later, we're still telling ourselves that once the old racists die off, things will be better. I'm beginning to wonder if we might need to rethink this narrative.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:48 PM
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Something else that is drastically different from the 90's is the ethnic makeup of large city police departments. LAPD these days is only around 38 percent white.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:54 PM
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Possible, though I spent my adolescence attending Southern Poverty Law center conferences and watching political talk shows, so I was not very sanguine about the end of racism in the 90s.

Yes, you said. But the difference is that when you start out, you see all the right-thinking people around you disapproving of that shit. Later, you see that right-thinking people still disapprove, but discover that the right-thinking people aren't as everywhere as you'd hoped. This doesn't necessarily reflect a decline in right-thinking people (though it might), it also reflects the process of being dishearteningly exposed to more and more of the other people. You're looking at different samples and seeing it as a narrative of decline in a single sample. Not that this state of affairs is not depressing and shitty! It is. But it doesn't mean that "being overtly racist is becoming more acceptable," overall.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:55 PM
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60: My point is that we're not considerably less racist than we were in the 60s

Britta, I think a definition of "racist" is needed in order to work through your meaning. I don't deny what you say, but those are strong words and need some detailed parsing, not that there aren't a myriad of people and writers already engaging in just that project.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:57 PM
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60 s/b 90, in 93.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:58 PM
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Obama got 40% of the white vote in 2012, which is about the same as the percentage of the white vote Clinton got in 1992.

Of course I agree with the overall point, but Clinton's showing among whites - like Obama's - was significantly motivated by racism. Toni Morrison wasn't the only one who thought of Bill as our first black president.

You can't really measure these things, but my intuition is that the hostility aimed at Clinton was as strong as that aimed at Obama, and was largely a product of the same attitudes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 12:59 PM
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Racism has gone rather more underground than it had been, no?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:02 PM
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We can all agree, though, that the glass is less than half full, and that those complaining that it is flowing over are delusional at best.


Posted by: CCarp | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:07 PM
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33:

My guess is most white Americans have the same attitudes they had towards Black people in the 1960s, however the system is such that it gets expressed differently and often more mutedly now that the system of legal apartheid has been officially dismantled.

I'm having trouble figuring out how to distinguish between those two things. Hypothetically, what would count as clear evidence for or against your claim? Aside from things that are just evidence for "some whites are still pretty racist," which is of course probably true but isn't being contested here.

For example, if survey data reflected fewer white people disapproving of interracial black-white dating than in the 1960s, would that be evidence against your claim, or not? Would a change for the better in randomly administered Implicit Association Tests be evidence against your claim?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:09 PM
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39: just seeing this now, sorry. Yes, that's what I'm suggesting. Nay, I am averring it in the strongest possible terms I have at my disposal: a black person could not have been elected president in the 1960s.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:13 PM
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Which is not to say, echoing others in this thread, that things aren't still tremendously shitty. But things have changed, for the better, in terms of white people's views of black people.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:15 PM
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"post-Fordist" = experiencing a hangover caused by one of one's drunken stupors

I've spent entirely too much time this morning pondering the quote in 19 vis-a-vis different possible Fordisms. Rob, Henry, Betty, Ford Madox, Tennessee Ernie...

72 is hilarious. I hope you gave the victim a friendly clap on the shoulder as you were mocking their stupidity.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:22 PM
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93

I start from the "prejudice + power" definition, and if we're getting into an academic discussion, I would say white people (myself included) are all racist, in that we advertently or inadvertently work to reinforce existing power structures which keeps whites at the top. I also think that racial categories are better viewed as statuses or positions rather than with any sort of positive definition. (e.g., white and black are relational power statuses, which is why they can change over time (e.g. who is 'white') but also incredibly entrenched and enduring. They can map on to particular social or ethnic groups, but they don't always have to. (In the US, the category 'black' seems quite fixed, but the categories 'white' and 'not-black' are more fluid, in that the 'white' category tends to absorb members of the 'not-black' category over time.) The particular categories their relation to each other differ in other societies, but the basic model doesn't). But anyways, this isn't a very helpful thing to say in general conversation though, so I avoid doing it. The definition that I'm working off of here is the idea that phenotypical differences between people can also correlated to biologically innate and socially meaningful differences. While it would be harder to get someone to state this outright in 2013 and they may phrase it differently, I get the sense that the number of people who see race as a biologically real and socially significant classification has not diminished from 1960, or very possibly since 1860. Moreover, many of the traits--laziness, violence, stupidity, soul--that have been ascribed to 'blackness' still adhere in 2013, even if you have to dogwhistle* in a more subtle way about it than you did, or even if you don't consciously associate them with your own racist attitudes. (No no, I'm not racist, it's just Trayvon Martin looked like a thug.) I read the NRO on a regular basis, and "are black people genetically inferior or do they simply have a degenerate culture"** is a frequent topic of debate, and this is in a "high-brow" conservative magazine.

*or not. Republicans were pretty open about how Romney would win because black people were too lazy to get to the polls and to stupid to figure out the new voting requirements. The "Obama phone" and the "taker" narratives also tied into this: Obama voters (not only black people, of course, but black people are center in the Republican imaginary) are lazy and greedy and want the government to give them things without working for them.
**which also gets into racism, but in a different way from the first sort.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:25 PM
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this is in a "high-brow" conservative magazine.

That high-brow conservative magazine has a long and well-documented history of open racism.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:30 PM
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Further to 25: Okay, I can neither confirm nor deny anything relating to this case. Pretend I didn't say anything for now.

37: Pretty much every day there's at least one front page story to which the only appropriate response is "I guess they ain't heard we got a Black President now"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:31 PM
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The definition that I'm working off of here is the idea that phenotypical differences between people can also correlated to biologically innate and socially meaningful differences.

This is a definition of racism? Because I think it needs some work. That is, my skin color (redfaced, freckled) is a phenotypical trait that is largely 'biologically innate' (that is, genetically determined, although affected by environmental factors like how much time I spend in the sun) and is also socially meaningful (in that it makes it much less likely that I will be, e.g., assumed to be a shoplifter than someone with a different skin color).

As stated, the bolded language seems to me to be uncontroversially true. Was I wrong that you meant it as a definition of racism, or how am I misunderstanding you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:35 PM
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98

See 102

Would a change for the better in randomly administered Implicit Association Tests be evidence against your claim?

Yes, I think it would. Do you know if they've been doing these over time? (Assuming the tests are comparable...)

What could also be going on, vis a vis the Southerners here who see things differently, is that the old school segregationists are dying off, but a new crop of politicians who are not simply a replacement of the old group, are being more overtly racist than they would have had they been around 20 years earlier. So, you have group X which no longer exists, which is an improvement, but you have a change in group Y to being more overtly racist, which is a decline of a sort. If you're surrounded almost entirely by group X politicians, then you see their decline and the rise of group Y as an improvement, but if you've seen the change in group Y, you see it as a decline.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:36 PM
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105 -- racist.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:37 PM
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(The Bell Curve came out in the post-racial '90s.)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:37 PM
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105: it's uncontroversially true in a stronger sense than that, really.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:38 PM
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I believe there's essentially zero evidence that any meaningfully large subset of white Americans has gotten more racist, even since the 1990s. What are you talking about?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:38 PM
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106 -- I think modern politicians have to blow harder on the whistles to make sure everyone they're trying to reach hears it, and is aggravated enough to do something about it. That is, I think it's consistent with a switch from active to passive racism among more white folks than you're giving credit for.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:40 PM
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20 years later, we're still telling ourselves that once the old racists die off, things will be better.

Not that race and sexual orientation work the same (in a thousand ways), but old people dying really can work out great for the pre-dead, in my demographic experience.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:42 PM
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Here's a summary of survey results from 1997-present..

Basically, white Americans show less anti-black animus in all categories. However, there's a decline among white people who answer "yes" to the question of whether black people continue, in the present, to be adversely affected by ongoing discrimination.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:43 PM
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NRO, or National Review, should not remotely be viewed as a reputable magazine.

The definition that I'm working off of here is the idea that phenotypical differences between people can also correlated to biologically innate and socially meaningful differences. While it would be harder to get someone to state this outright in 2013 and they may phrase it differently, I get the sense that the number of people who see race as a biologically real and socially significant classification has not diminished from 1960, or very possibly since 1860.

Some people continue to push that idea, but they're marginalized if they don't manage to stay under the radar. See Jason Richwine.

That said, racializing criminal tendencies is a going game. I have mentioned here before Kahlil Gibran Muhammed's The Condemnation of Blackness: that's very good, historically grounded work on the phenomenon.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:48 PM
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105

It wasn't worded that well because it's a blog comment, but I think you're being a bit obtuse. A better way to phrase it is that racism ascribes biologically innate difference to socially meaningful categories, thus naturalizing them, and associating particular traits (of personality, abilities, etc.) with with those biologically naturalized categories. I assumed that was somewhat clear, if not from the definition I gave (which wasn't clear), but from the examples following.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:48 PM
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Racism is more visible today because racists are more easily observed, because of the Internet. But that doesn't mean there are more racists, or that they are more intense in their racism. It just means they are easier to find, and that news of racist incidents spreads far wider than it used to.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:51 PM
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I think 102.1, while it was a useful point of departure in the past, is becoming outmoded. Not because we live in a "post-racial" society, what ever that would be, but because that line has been recuperated into capital via the networks that grew out of the (white-dominated) 60s-70s counterculture. And I mean "networks" to include the digital connotation as well.

If we're all damned, and damned utterly, why not just enjoy white supremacy while we've got it? If you look at the ideology being promulgated by the so-called "social-justice/anti-oppression" left, especially online, you find yourself in a sort of Ourobouros position. An example: The other day, a very well-meaning and radical white person posted on their FB an article decrying the fashionable alleged expropriation of certain hairstyles which were claimed for people of color by the authors. Another white person engaged the piece and agreed with its points, seeking to amplify certain themes. Then, someone who represented themself as a person of color showed up to insist that two white people, discussing an essay addressed to white people, on the FB wall of a white person, was a clear case of racist behavior because it somehow marginalized the opinions of people of color. At that point, it's like "whatever, dude." Just warmed-over Maoism is what it is.

Prescriptively:
Don't say "ally" when you mean "friend" or "supporter"
Don't say "privilege" when you mean "unacknowledged benefit"
Don't say "centered" when you mean "grabbed attention"
Don't say "erased" when you mean "temporarily ignored"
Don't say "voices" when you mean "opinions"
Don't say "intersectional" when you mean "problematic along race and gender lines, with a little bit of class thrown in"


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:53 PM
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One type of racism which has become more mainstream-acceptable since the 1990s is Islamophobia and general anti-Arab sentiment. As such, it has been marginally more acceptable to criticize Obama as a stealth-Muslim than it has been to criticize him for being black. (That is, if you hate him because he's black, you're a racist, plain and simple; but you hate him because he's a stealth-Muslim, you're just ignorant and misinformed.)


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:53 PM
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(Regarding the OP)

It's unbelievably frustrating that you have to have kid gloves on to get white kids to talk about being not-white

Yeah, but you have to, unless the satisfaction of being right is more important than winning anyone over. It's just how it is. I feel like I see this all the time in internet conversations about privilege, stuff like "bingo" where you have a list of dumb things people say when their white privilege is pointed out to them. It's nice to be right and it's nice to feel vindicated, but if the actual goal is a conversation that leads somewhere rather than a circular firing squad of self-congratulation, on with the kid gloves.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:53 PM
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It may be just that I was 14 at the time, and so becoming more politically and socially aware, but I recall noticing a lot more open racism just after 9/11. People, including my dad, said some things about Arabs that really shocked me. Maybe 9/11 really did increase racism by making white Americans feel like victims (or maybe people just felt freer to express racist views that they already had, or maybe it was just being 14.)


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:53 PM
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106: I don't think so, almost certainly not in a statistically valid way to track trends over time.

I just wanted to get a foothold on one theoretically testable prediction, because the way you're talking about racism, it seemed like you're making an incredibly weak claim, especially in 102.

I share the reservations expressed in 105.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:54 PM
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For example, according to that survey, in 1990 57% of white respondents were willing to say "whites are more intelligent than blacks." In 2008, 26% were. In 1990, 66% of whites were willing to say that blacks were lazier than whites. In 2008, 62% of whites said that blacks were either harder-working or worked the same amount as whites, and only 38% were willing to say that whites work harder than blacks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:54 PM
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Tia's 10 and 13 are insightful.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:58 PM
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I don't see how "dumb luck" sabotages the point. Newbies to the notion of structural inequality need to be instructed on its reality and operation.

Because being negatively affected by structural racism has nothing to do with luck. It's systematic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:59 PM
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However, there's a decline among white people who answer "yes" to the question of whether black people continue, in the present, to be adversely affected by ongoing discrimination.

Oh, interesting! and congruent with experiences like those described in the original post. And...

One type of racism which has become more mainstream-acceptable since the 1990s is Islamophobia and general anti-Arab sentiment.

...oh, yes, I would believe that for sure.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 1:59 PM
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113

That's obviously not bad news, but I'm concerned about this:

These trends must be interpreted with caution, for they may reflect at least to some extent changes in social norms about what kinds of answers ought to be reported on surveys rather than changes in actual levels of stereotyping and in openness to living with and marrying African Americans. Studies that use increasingly sophisticated measurement approaches that can disentangle the possible explanations for the pattern of changes are certainly warranted.

It's notoriously hard to do social science research on stigmatized but widely held attitudes. Too lazy to find the exact research, studies I read for a sociology methods class showed that you can drastically reduce the number of racists in your findings by sending a person of color to collect data on the topic, and similarly with anti-Semitism and sexism etc.

Maybe I am being too pessimistic. I dunno. Maybe I've been reading too many articles about black men being sentenced to life in prison for shoplifting or unarmed black people being murdered by white(ish) people with guns and facing no consequences and it's warped my view.

Racism is more visible today because racists are more easily observed, because of the Internet. But that doesn't mean there are more racists, or that they are more intense in their racism. It just means they are easier to find, and that news of racist incidents spreads far wider than it used to.

True, without internet I wouldn't be able to read NRO or Ann Althouse and would have never heard of John Derbyshire (or Steve Sailer).


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:01 PM
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106: I mean, if you're going to use a definition of racism by which all white people are racist, and then measure whether racism has decreased by counting the number of white racists, then obviously it hasn't. But what does that cash out to in practice?

At other times it seems like you're talking about the strength of racism, or the number of people who are strongly racist, but that's a completely different claim about a very different concept.

Are you saying there's not less behavior that disadvantages black people? Or that white people don't on average have weaker feelings of racial animosity? Or that they don't have weaker prejudicial attitudes towards blacks? Or just that a constant percentage of whites in the US (i.e. 100%) participate, willingly or un-, in a system that perpetuates racial inequality? Or something else entirely?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:02 PM
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126: If more people are ashamed of their racial prejudice, that's a change too, and a material one.

There's not always a set of "real opinions" in our brains somewhere, that we consciously hide whenever we say or do something inconsistent with them. Instead we switch between different modes in different contexts.

Maybe you mean to say something like that - that white people don't engage in certain types of racially discriminatory behavior or speech, but are just as likely as before to toss out a resume because it has a "black" name on it. But the other stuff is important too!


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:07 PM
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In fact, that's actually one of the things that makes racism really tough to talk about. People often endorse one particular academic definition, but then reason in practice with a totally different commonsense concept.

For example, I've heard the same exact people claim that all whites are racist using the "participates in a system that perpetuates racial inequality" definition, and then say that someone is disgusting because they're a racist or using the term as an insult, implicitly using the "personally has strong racial animus" definition.

They're not equivocating on purpose, I don't think. Just using different mental modes to recite the definition, and to think about when to apply the word to real people and events.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:12 PM
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Other stuff in that survey that's super interesting for the subject of the OP.

From the 1990s-present, among white respondents, the number of white people who endorse "biological" explanations for black-white inequality (i.e., blacks are poorer because they are inherently biologically defective) has declined markedly. But so has the number of white people who are willing to endorse every other explanations for inequality suggested by the pollsters -- discrimination, some kind of black-white cultural difference, and lack of education. In short, white people seem increasingly unwilling to endorse any theory for ongoing black-white inequality; the biological theories are on the way out, but so are all the other theories.

Explaining Racial Inequality. In the past few decades, there has been increasing interest in understanding how people explain current racial inequality. This is in part because it is a useful predictor of levels of support (or opposition) to the kinds of race-targeted policies just described (e.g., Bobo and Kluegel 1993; Bobo, Kluegel and Smith 1997; Hughes 1997; Kinder and Sanders 1996). In short, whites who perceive the causes of inequality to include structural factors--such as discrimination--are more likely to support race-based policies. In addition, numerous scholars have argued that the very nature of racial prejudice has shifted from one based on perceptions of biological racial differences and strict segregation that were characteristic of the Jim Crow era, to one that is more contemporary and in which popular beliefs include a denial of the existence of race-based discrimination, persistent negative racial stereotypes that typically involve the sense that blacks violate cherished American values, and a belief in cultural--rather than biological--differences between racial groups.

. . . .

The trends that were beginning to emerge in the late 1990s on questions of this type persist with the addition of data from the first few years of the new century. For example, beginning in 1977, NORC asked respondents whether they thought each of four different reasons could explain why "blacks, on average, have worse jobs, income, and housing than whites." Updating the results reported in the 2nd edition of the book, we see that the trend that began at the end of the 1990s has persisted up to 2006: each of the four explanations--discrimination, inborn ability to learn, education, and motivation are selected by fewer and fewer whites over time (see Figure 5).
This declining endorsement of all four explanations reflects a waning belief among whites in both biological (inborn ability to learn) and structural (education and discrimination) explanations of racial inequality. The most popular explanation continues to be one focused on cultural characteristics: that blacks lack the necessary motivation and willpower to succeed. Interestingly, however, although it is the modal explanation for whites, it, too, has been declining in support over the past few decades. This pattern--a declining significance of structural causes as well as of biological causes--is consistent with the transition from Jim Crow to more contemporary theories of racial ideology (Bobo, Kluegel and Smith 1997). However, the declining support for the cultural explanation is unexplained by these theories. One possibility is that an altogether different explanation has become salient in the contemporary racial climate--one that we have yet to include in survey questions. A second possibility is that social desirability pressures--which are always of concern on questions that are sensitive--are at work. It may be that this explanation has become viewed as increasingly inappropriate to admit to a survey interviewer in a contemporary climate of "colorblind" ideology (Forman 2004). Unfortunately, the data do not permit us to adjudicate between these and other interpretations.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:13 PM
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Oh lord, we should have the black names argument sometime. (I mean, I'm sure it's been had here several times.) Baby Selah has an apostrophe we're going to drop and Nia wants her name changed to a more race-neutral version. Mara's we only changed so the spelling matched the pronunciation (because "sh" says "shhh" unambiguously; people still can't pronounce the rest of her name the first time) and I still feel more than a little History's Greatest Monsteresque.

I believe things have absolutely improved since the '60s and the '90s, but also that there are still huge areas of concern, many of which have been mentioned already.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:14 PM
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Racism is more visible today because racists are more easily observed, because of the Internet. But that doesn't mean there are more racists, or that they are more intense in their racism.

Hmmm, I wonder. I mean, I feel like the internet has been good for marginalized sub-cultures in general because it does make it easy to find quadcopter-enthusiasts (or RPG-enthusiasts, or whatever) and feel like your own personal interests are reinforced by a community, and making information easily available provides an easier route for new people to find and join. I could easily imagine that the internet is good for racists for the same reason.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:16 PM
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Racists are like furries.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:19 PM
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130: I wonder how much of that is due to the increased traction of Ayn Rand-style libertarianism. To the extent that you believe that success and failure are entirely determined by your actions as an individual, then structural factors in society just don't enter into the equation.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:20 PM
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Don't say "erased" when you mean "temporarily ignored"

My favorite of your generally excellent prescriptions.

Much earlier I was going to post a comment expressing skepticism about the usefulness of comparing levels of racism in the U.S. over time, because the noteworthy thing is how massively the social/economic/legal landscape has changed in 50 years-- but this has been illuminating, so I'm glad I held off.

Still, the origin of the discussion is a particular pedagogical context, familiar to a lot of us, and whether that attitude of aggrieved entitlement has been holding firm or increasing or declining since, I dunno, Bakke. And I don't know how you measure that. (I guess I've always thought of "reverse racism" complaints as being straight-up racist takedowns of the uppity and presumptuous. It's not some obscure emergent property of white privilege; it's plain racism. These people aren't good enough to tell me whether I'm good enough or not.) The question of feelings is interesting, though: I wonder if, for uptight white guys, the experience of having those feelings during a supposedly rational discussion of systemic racism is a kind of humiliation. Having unexpected feelings in public is disempowering, and that triggers a sense of grievance.

Anyway surely it's because millennials are narccissists, and because students no longer respect their teachers.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:23 PM
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Oh lord, we should have the black names argument sometime.

Let's not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:26 PM
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129 see 130 see 19 "desubjectification and subjection"

"I, umm, really have no strong clear opinions on all this and would prefer to mark none or all of the above. 100% of white people are racists? Ok, ok, how about, just tell me more. I'll just listen. You seem really smart and I think I could learn a lot.

Did I get the job?"

This is all just job-training, vocational education in the new immaterial labour pluralistic workplace.

Oh, and currently reading about the "culture of cuteness" in Japan. The above is what it looks like.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:27 PM
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134 sure seems plausible to me.* White racial ideology is morphing into a very different, but equally destructive, libertarian ideology that is averse to all forms of structural explanation, even racist ones.

*Likely because it is consistent with my "libertarians are the real enemy" core beleif.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:28 PM
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I think one especially pernicious aspect of racism is that it provides an incentive for minority people to be racist themselves. If your best strategy in a mixed-race environment is to "act white," then you'll do that, and in the process you will reinforce the social status of white people. I'm not old enough to know, but I'd guess that this incentive is much stronger now than it was in the 1960's, when "acting white" wouldn't have bought you much of anything.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:30 PM
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I've always thought of "reverse racism" complaints as being straight-up racist takedowns of the uppity and presumptuous. It's not some obscure emergent property of white privilege; it's plain racism. These people aren't good enough to tell me whether I'm good enough or not.

I think this is extremely uncharitable and, therefore, not very helpful. During my brief teenage libertarian period, I used to rail against race-based admissions and scholarships as "reverse racism". I do not believe that was motivated by any racism, but simple egotism and ignorance. Not "these people aren't good enough to judge me", but simply trying to find some semi-plausible face-saving way to explain why I wasn't getting what I thought I was due. God, I was stupid, but I still remember that it felt pretty real at the time.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:31 PM
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I'm on board with the pushback against Britta's argument, but I think it's also easy for folks of my generation to feel disappointed by the lack of progress.

I mean, we knew there were a lot of problems in the 70s, but they were well on their way to being solved, right? ML King was widely admired, and Archie Bunker was a figure of fun - and if everybody hadn't quite gotten the message yet, the trend was clear. If nothing else, a couple of decades of old racists dying off was going to change things a lot.

If you'd told me in 1975 that we'd elect a black president in 2008, I'd have said, "Sure. Why not?" If you'd told me that in 2006, I would have found it implausible, if not impossible.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:35 PM
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138: Well, yes. That's the way in which it's going underground. The same mechanism is in play with respect to gay rights: lately it's become more fashionable to explain (even if you're gay) that supporting ENDA, for example, just perpetuates an unsightly victim mentality, which one does not want to support. Therefore supporting legislation explicitly outlawing discrimination against LGBTQ people is bad, because not blind enough.

Um.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:36 PM
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White racial ideology is morphing into a very different, but equally destructive, libertarian ideology

Read 19, it's really good. Fight Club. Nostalgia for Fordism, including the erasure of history (novel) or apocalyptic destruction of Capitalism (movie)

It will work out about as well as it did in the story.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:37 PM
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Maybe you mean to say something like that - that white people don't engage in certain types of racially discriminatory behavior or speech, but are just as likely as before to toss out a resume because it has a "black" name on it. But the other stuff is important too!

Yes, and shame is important and there needs to be more of it. The hard thing with racism is one term covers a bunch of different concepts which are otherwise hard to express. Racial prejudice, feelings of animosity towards outsiders, institutional power structures, racial theories, etc. It's hard to be precise because there's not really an alternative way to refer to all these things.

The Trayvon Martin case is a great example of the point I'm trying to make. Zimmerman is not a racist in the folk definition of the term, as in, he bears no conscious racial animosity towards black people, nor does he see them as inferior. Yet his racism killed Trayvon Martin, and in part got him acquitted. For Martin, it doesn't matter if Zimmerman answered 'not racist' on the survey, he's just as dead as if he had been lynched by the Klan who were acquitted by an overtly racist jury. Obviously it's 'better' that this was not an obvious hate crime, but it's not really much of an improvement if the outcomes are the same. Maybe this is my point: yes, overt racism is down since the 1960s, but structural racism still exists, and racist or 'racialist' attitudes/beliefs which lead to support for such as system still persist and are reproduced in the media, and this has maintained a system of racial inequality almost as pernicious as the old one. Maybe we're on the cusp of change and racism will go the way of homophobia, but I feel like we've been saying were on the cusp for about 30 years now, at least.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/08/28/these-seven-charts-show-the-black-white-economic-gap-hasnt-budged-in-50-years/


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:37 PM
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we should have the black names argument sometime

Key and Peele had a sketch making fun of black college athletes with unusual names (punch line -- the last athlete in the lineup is a white kid from BYU: Dan Smith), that left me a little uncertain about laughing at it. From the actual source, I suppose it was unobjectionable, but I can think of a lot of racist people who would think it was funny for reasons I disapprove of.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:38 PM
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Zimmerman is not a racist in the folk definition of the term, as in, he bears no conscious racial animosity towards black people, nor does he see them as inferior. Yet his racism killed Trayvon Martin, and in part got him acquitted. For Martin, it doesn't matter if Zimmerman answered 'not racist' on the survey, he's just as dead as if he had been lynched by the Klan who were acquitted by an overtly racist jury. Obviously it's 'better' that this was not an obvious hate crime, but it's not really much of an improvement if the outcomes are the same.

I think the numbers have genuinely changed -- that there are really fewer kids like Martin being killed by racists than there were in even the recent past. The outcome might be the same for Martin, but it's different for his cohort.

It's nowhere near different enough -- there's still a long way to go. But believing that outcomes haven't changed at all seems to me to be simply mistaken.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:41 PM
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If you'd told me in 1975 that we'd elect a black president in 2008, I'd have said, "Sure. Why not?" If you'd told me that in 2006, I would have found it implausible, if not impossible.

Very interesting, but don't you think this says more about you than about the states of racism in 1977 and 2006?

The nostalgia for the Fordist era is not at all limited to the right.

And we will also get Big Labor back anyday now.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:41 PM
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I don't disagree with any of 144, and to do so seems like denial. Oh, except that I don't think homophobia is any more dying out than racism.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:43 PM
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He was only president for like two years. How does he get an era named after him?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:44 PM
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If you'd told me in 1975 that we'd elect a black president in 2008, I'd have said, "Sure. Why not?" If you'd told me that in 2006, I would have found it implausible, if not impossible.

Doesn't this partially reflect the fact that the farther you're projecting out in the future the wider the range of possibilities becomes.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:45 PM
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More of 146: Also, what makes you say Zimmerman isn't a racist by the folk definition? I don't know that he is, but I really don't know that he isn't and I'd guess that there's a good chance that there is based on what he did.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:45 PM
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Zimmerman is not a racist in the folk definition of the term, as in, he bears no conscious racial animosity towards black people, nor does he see them as inferior.

I very seriously doubt that either of those are true. He's just smart enough not to say anything like that aloud.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:45 PM
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152 before seeing 151.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:46 PM
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144: When you put it like that I don't think we disagree. There's much less overt racism, there's still a lot of structural racism, and we're not on the cusp of a perfectly unracist society.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:46 PM
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131: My mother taught a student whose name was Raniceish (or quite similar), which was pronounced Ray-nee-shia. I'm sure it's going to be helpful for Mara to have a name that can at least be guessed phonetically, regardless of the monstrosity of losing the original version.

145: I see those routines in other places, and they are almost all decidedly unfunny.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:46 PM
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146.last: LB, I think you have to look at current incarceration rates for black males in order to compare outcomes.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:47 PM
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When you put it like that I don't think we disagree.

Yeah, I don't think any of the pushback was against the idea that there's still lots of structural racism and it's not going away soon -- it was the idea that "being overtly racist is becoming more acceptable than it was in the 1990s."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:48 PM
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144 - Yes, the "low-hanging fruit" of overt, extreme racism has largely been eliminated, or at least marginalized and heavily stigmatized. What remains is the more subtle, insidious forms of racism. These are harder to eliminate because (a) they are subtle and insidious (obviously), (b) as such, it's more difficult to combat them with structural or policy solutions that are not either over-broad or ineffective, and (c) people are able to point to the elimination of the "low-hanging fruit" racism and say, "See, racism has been dealt with! So why are you still going on and on about racism?"


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:48 PM
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More of 146: Also, what makes you say Zimmerman isn't a racist by the folk definition? I don't know that he is, but I really don't know that he isn't and I'd guess that there's a good chance that there is based on what he did.

We can all speculate, but Zimmerman has claimed, repeatedly, that he is not racist and bears no racial animosity towards black people, and had people testify as such during his trial. If we're accepting self proclamations in survey data as valid sociological data on American racial attitudes, then we have to do the same for Zimmerman.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:52 PM
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If you'd told me in 1975 that we'd elect a black president in 2008, I'd have said, "Sure. Why not?" If you'd told me that in 2006, I would have found it implausible, if not impossible.

Doesn't this partially reflect the fact that the farther you're projecting out in the future the wider the range of possibilities becomes.

Indeed, if you'd told me in 1968 that by 2001 we'd have a manned mission to Jupiter, I'd have found it plausible. (Putting aside the fact that in 1968 I was an infant, and as such found it plausible that the stuffed animal ceased to exist when it was removed from my line of sight.)


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:53 PM
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Oh, except that I don't think homophobia is any more dying out than racism.

It really, really is.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:54 PM
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149:Fordism

For 19 see section "In Regulation Theory"

A rhetoric of inclusion/exclusion and social liberation (as opposed to individual), and meta-narratives is particular to the Fordist MOR.

Neo-liberalism is in part about using the metanarratives and discourse of mass liberations in the service of individualistic and libertarian goals.

But honestly, we are even so past post-Fordism/post-modernism. Post-Deleuze.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:54 PM
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159: This seems to underweight the evidentiary value of the fact that a statistically insignificant percentage of survey respondents have gunned down an unarmed black teenager.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:57 PM
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148

Not dying out, no, but it is totally undeniable that public perceptions of homosexuality have become far more tolerant, and that the linear and monotonic increase in support for gay marriage is the clearest piece of evidence.

You can then say the same thing about interracial marriage. I think part of the issue here is in extrapolating trends. People are extrapolating a linear decrease in racism eventually hitting the x-axis on the day that racism dies. But it seems far more likely to me that racism would follow an exponential decay, with each remaining form of racism being more and more difficult to eradicate and therefore a) progress is slower than expected and b) we will never hit the x-axis.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:58 PM
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This is interesting:

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/08/22/race-demographics/

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/06/incarceration-gap-between-whites-and-blacks-widens/


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:58 PM
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Which is kind of what 158 was saying.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:58 PM
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Of course, the interesting story isn't about either Zimmerman or Martin, but about the political forces on both sides trying to fit the event into meta-narratives for conflicting Modes of Regulation.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:59 PM
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But generally, what 157 said, and also 161. There's definitely lots of racism left, and it's definitely not improving in anything like the way attitudes toward gays have. All I've been pushing back against is the idea that there's been no significant change since the 60s, or even since the 90s, on racial issues.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 2:59 PM
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Sorry, I guess maybe I misread "homophobia isn't dying out" to mean it isn't getting better. No, it isn't going away altogether. Nothing bad ever does.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:02 PM
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Oh, some bad things really do go away altogether. Literally no one I have ever met in my life perceptibly thought less of me because my grandparents were impoverished Irish immigrants. A few generations ago, though, that would have been a possibility.

It's not that I have a lot of hope that any current social problems will go away that completely ever, much less soon, but it's not inconceivable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:05 PM
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165

The Pew report screws up the income data. It seems to me that what is important isn't the absolute income difference, but the income ratio. And the income ratio has improved slowly but steadily over time, with the Great Recession being the lone exception. Even with this setback, the income ratio is better in 2011 than it was in 1990.

Caveat: It's still appalling (~60%) but slightly less appalling than before (55%).


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:08 PM
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I think it's perfectly possible that Zimmerman is not a traditional racist at all, but is someone deeply committed to the notion that he has a right to shoot people whom he finds vaguely threatening, or who fail to accede to his self-image of being a protective, heroic person with a gun. That attitude is much more derived from the libertarian view of the unconstrained protective superman than it is from some inherent belief in racial inferiority.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:10 PM
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171: The absolute income difference matters a lot when you are talking about competitive positional goods, like education, healthcare, neighborhoods.

But both political parties need their unassailable voting blocs and bases.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:14 PM
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Oh, some bad things really do go away altogether. Literally no one I have ever met in my life perceptibly thought less of me because my grandparents were impoverished Irish immigrants. A few generations ago, though, that would have been a possibility.

My grandparents had to elope because my Swedish great-grandmother disapproved of my grandmother marrying a Finn. I'm happy to say I've encountered very little racial discrimination, despite being 1/4 Finnish.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:15 PM
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I do think there's a difference between racism as a preference for how society should function, and racism as a motivation for one's individual behavior. I think both kinds of racism have decreased since the 1960's, but people are shamed much more for the first kind of racism, whereas the second kind is tolerated because it's so hard to pin down. (This is also in line with the observations in 130, and Halford's libertarian theory of racism.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:16 PM
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I'm happy to say I've encountered very little racial discrimination, despite being 1/4 Finnish.

And you say you don't believe there has been any progress against racism!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:17 PM
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Nothing bad ever does.

Bear baiting? But then I think of Sarah Palin shooting wolves from a helicopter.

Taking children to public executions? Except that you could probably find a recent one, because the world is big.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:17 PM
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Taking children to public executions?

Don't give Rick Perry any ideas.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:23 PM
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Darlings I was just being adorably negative.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:26 PM
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Taking children to public executions?

Eventually, you'll run out of children.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:30 PM
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Knitting-induced dysthemia?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:32 PM
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170: You've genuinely never met anyone anti-Catholic? I'm mildly gobsmacked by that, even though I just spent four days in Florida telling people how generally white and conservative Pennsylvania is.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:35 PM
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Taking children to public executions?

*cough* renaissance fair *cough*


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:37 PM
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torrey pine's 139 is not getting enough attention, but it's a fantastic and important point. I keep trying to say more about it and deleting and coming up short, so off to cook dinner.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:38 PM
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182: I honestly don't think I ever have run into anti-Catholicism that I've identified in person. I'd believe it exists, though -- I was specifically talking about prejudice against Irish immigrants, and I think that's gone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:45 PM
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because "sh" says "shhh" unambiguously; people still can't pronounce the rest of her name the first time

You mean she had a Polish name?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 3:54 PM
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185: When I was married to a Catholic in Texas, I was amused to learn on several occasions that I was only the second most likely of us to spend eternity in hell. It had never previously occurred to me that Jewish would be better than idolater Catholic in certain circles.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:17 PM
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187: When my dad was maybe 5-ish he mortified his mother by asking the first nun he ever met if she'd remove her headgear so he could see her horns.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:34 PM
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186: Not that big a change. Her name was originally "sah" and is now "sha" because no one looks at the first spelling and generates the second pronunciation unless they know another little black girl with the name. I have a totally made-up theory that at one point there was a bible for black churches that had her name misprinted, because her version seems way more common in the black community than the original Hebrew version is.

I know I've said before that all three girls' birth certificates have misspellings (probably transcription errors in all cases) in their moms' names. I don't know if this happens for wealthier women who recognize the problem and get it fixed or if they were uniquely unlucky or it was subtle name-related racism or what. Nia's long name was probably supposed to have have extra letters capitalized inside it, but we didn't know that until she'd been in foster care a year and learned to spell it without them....


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:34 PM
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If we are talking about structural racism, progress or lack thereof in the expressed or even revealed preferences of white people in the aggregate seems somewhat beside the point. Pew data getting rosier is consistent with structural racism getting worse because it's like . . . structural. The President's attitudes towards black Americans are presumably not problematic, but it's not exactly been a priority of the his two terms to address the permanent dislocation of people from society and the economy produced by mass incarceration.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:40 PM
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"OK Tigers, the fans are against you, the refs are against you, the game is rigged, so go out there and fight like you think you can win!" Paranoid and self-pitying is no way to go through life (believe me, I can vouch for this). Whose interests are being served? Because it's not black and brown people.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:47 PM
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The President's attitudes towards black Americans are presumably not problematic, but it's not exactly been a priority of the his two terms to address the permanent dislocation of people from society and the economy produced by mass incarceration.

Well, OK, but probably "racism" is not the greatest frame to think through these issues in.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:49 PM
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I read all the way to the bottom to see if someone mentioned class: I think that much of what we're arguing about can be explained by that. What seems to have decreased since the 60s is the amount of racism experienced by upper-middle-class African-Americans. Hence, a black president. But what's intensified is the entanglement of racism and class oppression--the incarceration regime, the stigmatization of kids wearing hoodies, the continued disdain for "black" names, and so on.

The resulting system looks less racist from some vantage points because many African Americans can escape it. But that system, as a result, is even crueler for the ones who can't.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 4:57 PM
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193 is plausible.

I am very much aware that my own personal experience isn't a useful basis on which to decide whether it is actually true.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:05 PM
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120 It may be just that I was 14 at the time

You should recruit more people of your approximate age to the blog. We're all getting so old.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:15 PM
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When the KKK has given up on being anti-catholic, I think you can say anti-catholicism has pretty much died out.

(Thinking Catholics aren't going to heaven is a separate issue from anti-Catholicism in my mind.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:16 PM
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Here's a story of privilege, although not of racism.

My brother works in Big Finance, and sent me an email the other day. A colleague of his has some sort of brain cancer, and his doctors (real people at a real place) want to do a treatment. Third-party claims people say no, citing carrier's policy on this "experimental" treatment. On appeal, carrier says no, based on third-party claims people's decision. Colleague is talking with Brother, who figures out (fooling around on the internet) that I used to work, in a big organization, with the fellow who is now a big cheese in the general counsel's office at the carrier. Wants to know if Big Cheese can give a name for some sentient person with whom they might argue the matter.

I knew Big Cheese to say hi, and probably had lunch with him (and a bunch of other people) 10 years ago. We haven't worked at the same place since pretty much then.

I send email telling him we're looking for a contact. He responds next day asking for particulars. I send Colleague's info. Brother calls 24 hours later: treatment approved.

Let's hope it works.

My guess is that an inquiry from Big Cheese was enough to get the minions to think about whether they were doing the right thing on this claim, and that no rules/contractual provisions were bent.

On the one hand, it's nice to be able to help someone (even if I've now used my one-time favor with this guy). On the other, it's not nice to live in a world where only someone who can get this kind of attention can get the treatment real doctors at a real place think is the right thing to do.


Posted by: Grover Cleveland (second term) | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:52 PM
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America has some nominally race blind structures that are probably deep down driven by racial fears and concerns. Things like a weak welfare state and a strongly punitive penal system.

Tricky to call this racism because it is largely implemented in a plausibly race neutral way. And because proponents, bureaucrats, police and judges enforcing and enacting the system are not necessarily racist.

It really doesn't fit the model of racism as a matter of bad intent. The kind of thing we see as so bad that it will ruin your career.


Posted by: lemmycaution | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:56 PM
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198.1 I don't think it's all that deep.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 5:58 PM
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in the 1960's, when "acting white" wouldn't have bought you much of anything.

How are you defining `acting white'? The elderly Black neighbor ladies of my childhood could wear suits and gloves like the very armor of righteousness, in a style very like my WASP grandmothers'. I'm pretty sure that would be `acting white' to some of their enemies, and that it was a conscious (and successful!) strategy for much of the Civil Rights generation. I think Howard Zinn's autobiography says as much.

I quite like 175, even as an explanation for why I agree more with Britta than anyone else seems to. I feel as though there was a brief puzzled respite, when overt racism was made illegal and uncomfortable, and also the economy was mostly booming so there was room at the top. Now the knives have to be sharp again, and the personally-racist are finding subtler ways to reknit their prejudice into stacking the odds in society.

For instance, the arguments that the GOP is disenfranchising blacks because they might vote Dem doesn't in itself explain why their black-specific actions are so popular. I'd say it rather explains why the GOP is successful, because they've found a divisive strategy they can legally get away with.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 6:35 PM
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along the lines of 200, I find 139 hard to understand. What is 'acting white'? Is acting like Booker T. Washington 'acting white', while acting like Eminem is 'acting black'? How do these terms make sense absent an essentialist concept of race?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:12 PM
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I called attention to 139 because I think by "acting white" he meant acting in a way that makes white people feel comfortable and unthreatened in a majority-white context, code-switching in a way that prioritizes the cultural preferences of mainstream white culture. It's about the politics of respectability.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:24 PM
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193: I agree that class-marking is huge. And yet Michelle and Barack (no clear race or class markings) chose Malia, which definitely reads black although I'd think class-ambiguous.

But I'm also fascinated by the names of the girls' classmates, where almost everyone was born into poverty. There are names like Kayla and Nevaeh and the boy names that end in -en that cross racial lines. Beyonce and Elizabeth and Samantha are Latina. Elvis and Esiree and Martina are white. The many black/white biracial kids seem to have more low-class race-neutral "young mom" names like Ashlynn and Kayden. The girls insist there's a white KeyVaughn, but I dunno.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:30 PM
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So few people are named "Boat".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:46 PM
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I find 139 hard to understand. What is 'acting white'? Is acting like Booker T. Washington 'acting white', while acting like Eminem is 'acting black'? How do these terms make sense absent an essentialist concept of race?

Oh good lord what college-style debate point bullshit. Do you really find this "hard to understand"? Of course you don't. Or, what Thorn said more generally "acting in a way that makes white people feel comfortable and unthreatened in a majority-white context, code-switching in a way that prioritizes the cultural preferences of mainstream white culture. It's about the politics of respectability."

I disagree with 139, though, to the extent that it suggests that pre-civil-rights-era blacks or non-black minorities had less incentive to "act white" than they do now.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:47 PM
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I disagree with 209 because segregation meant segregation for many people, and there are tons of personal memoirs I've read about living in an all-black context where even seeing a white person was an anomaly. Knowing how to act around whites meant being polite and servile, which seems different from what we're talking about in the modern context. And obviously situations differed drastically depending on location and context and whatnot.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:54 PM
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200: Ah, ok, that's a good point. However, I think 'acting white' in the context of the 1960's civil rights movement would have bought you something quite different from what you get by 'acting white' in today's ostensibly race-blind world. In the 1960's, 'acting white' would have been obviously interpreted as a demand for racial equality, whereas today it is usually interpreted as a desire to assimilate into upper-middle-class society (which happens to be mostly white). Obviously this is progress, but I guess it bothers me that this strategy of assimilation seems to force everyone to deny the existence of race -- and therefore deny the existence of racism.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:55 PM
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In the 1960's, 'acting white' would have been obviously interpreted as a demand for racial equality

I... don't think that's quite right.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 7:57 PM
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It would have been obviously interpreted as a demand for generic surf rock.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:00 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:03 PM
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Corrections are very welcome. I'm not so sure I understand black/white racial issues, actually. Most of my experience is with Asian/white folks, where this issue of assimilation is quite real.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:03 PM
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210 -- Ah. Perhaps you're right for many communities, particularly rural ones. I was thinking of talented tenth types, or older waves of immigrants looking to kiss up by kicking down.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:03 PM
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My advisor calls himself a "banana" I guess because Twinkies weren't really a thing when he was a kid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:05 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:09 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:10 PM
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I'm sure there were contexts in that era when any kind of "acting white" would have read as an implicit demand for respect, etc. (and thus, potentially threatening), but I also think that it was much more often the aforequoted "acting in a way that makes white people feel comfortable and unthreatened in a majority-white context, code-switching in a way that prioritizes the cultural preferences of mainstream white culture. It's about the politics of respectability" -- in other words, not so much a demand for equality on the part of the "white acting" person, as rather a requirement for receiving a certain kind of treatment from white majority culture.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:15 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:23 PM
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192 Well, OK, but probably "racism" is not the greatest frame to think through these issues in.

Why not? We have institutions, laws, and practices of social reward/punishment that systematically work to the disadvantage of certain racial groups. They don't require the active animus of a Bull Connor in our political class and white citizens to maintain, just ordinary neglect, indifference, and a concentration on other priorities.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:25 PM
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222: I have said before that Americans should have 30 words for racism, just like the apochryphal eskimos and their snow.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:29 PM
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215: Sure, much of the point of the white privilege system is that to be accepted, you (non-white generic) have to be able to hear "I don't even see you as X" and get there by proving that you're not like those Y who fit the stereotypes. Living like that for a while often gets you to believe the stereotypes about others, again because it's hard for people who've succeeded to understand how they got there in a way that isn't somewhat paranoid and self-aggrandizing, and so of course anyone else could have done it if they weren't so busy not doing things right and exemplifying the stereotypical Y characteristics.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:30 PM
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I'm trying to think about what books I've read that seem pertinent to getting at the dynamic. Diane Cross's Fraternity, about the pioneering group of black men at Holy Cross in the late '60s (including Clarence Thomas) and the white priest who was their champion and mentor but also pressured them to conform and keep quiet in ways that were increasingly uncomfortable for some of them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:34 PM
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225: Thanks, that looks like something I should read.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 8:55 PM
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I don't know if it really is something you should read, but it's quick and easy and has some good insights, plus a side of Clarence Thomas I for one had never seen before. But you're talking about a very real dynamic, and I think there's good work that's been done about how Asian assimilation has (and hasn't?) worked in various eras. To me as an outsider, it seems clear that Asian Americans are assimilated in terms of, say, all the drama about who counts as a minority for college entrance purposes, but there's also the eternal-outsider thing where Asian American and Latin@ folks of whatever background are assumed to be immigrants.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:07 PM
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I started reading John Hope Franklin's autobiography recently, and though I'm still near the very beginning, I'm guessing he gets into this dynamic. He lived in an all-black town (that happened to be fiercely divided over religion because I guess people always have to divide over something) before moving to Tulsa a bit after the huge riot there, which his dad lived through but which delayed the family's move. He went on to become one of the first black historians to teach in a non-historically-black-college.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 9:13 PM
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I have said before that Americans should have 30 words for racism, just like the apochryphal eskimos and their snow.

Oddly enough, the Eskimos only have one word for "white person."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:49 PM
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"mzunguzungu"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 10:52 PM
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The actual word is kass'aq.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-20-13 11:18 PM
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231: If you teach us a new Yup'ik noun every time someone makes a snow vocabulary joke, how long until we cover the intro course?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 12:01 AM
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I think we've learned about fifty words.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 12:10 AM
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Only about half of them were nouns, though. We started with verbs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 12:11 AM
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So yeah, I think I've probably got a month or two worth of material.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 12:11 AM
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I'm probably going to continue with it next semester, though, so that should replenish my supply.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 12:50 AM
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Sure is quiet tonight. Where the hell is Smearcase?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 1:32 AM
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233

Wait, are you learning Yup'ik? Where? Why? Also, does Yup'ik employ the antipassive? I ask this out of unbridled curiosity and fascination. Maybe also a bit of envy. I have my own difficult language to learn, so I guess I should focus on that.

True story that no one cares about: Franz Boas got his start as an anthropologist trying to determine if the Sami had 100 words for snow. It took him about a day to learn they didn't, but then he was stuck in Lapland in a tent for about 7 months because winter. It makes me feel better whenever I think about the success or lack thereof of my own fieldwork.

But anyways, I do agree that class has to be part of the conversation. I also think Halford's neoliberal Randian ubermensch theory is interesting and may mean we need to rethink how we theorize about racism. Though, negative outcomes and disparities still exist along the entire spectrum of the class system, so racism can't be replaced by a class analysis entirely. I do think it is more possible for African Americans to "act white" and become honorary whites,* and people who would have formerly been outright racist now allow for "the good kind" of blacks outside of service positions. Then again, it has always been the case that a small number of oppressed minorities have been able to succeed by appeasing the oppressors, and this says nothing vis a vis treatment of members of their group.

*Though only to a point. I feel like Obama was able to win in large part because he has impeccable credentials in the acting white department, but a lot of the outrage against Obama is directed at this. Obama gets critiqued for being both an uppity Negro and a lazy undeserving affirmative action recipient because his milquetoast UMC bourgeois conventionality really pisses a lot of people off.** That the attacks don't stick does demonstrate a change in thinking, but the fact they carry any weight at all is a sign of its limitations.

**I think there's a lot of conservative outrage that standard attempts to smear Obama with negative black stereotypes don't work, and a lot of that fury has been shifted onto Michelle Obama, who they see as an easier target as an African-American (rather than an African American). The "mainstream" conservative media (Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) goes absolutely nuts over Michelle Obama, complaining about her "ghetto booty," talking about her eating fried chicken, calling her loud and trashy, and stopping just short of calling her an ape. Considering Michelle Obama has done nothing but embrace a very traditional First Lady role in an objectively uncontroversial way, it's hard to explain all the vitriol towards her except as displaced racial animosity that can't be taken out her husband.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 1:39 AM
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Huh, I guess I haven't been talking as incessantly as I thought about the Yup'ik class I'm taking. Anyway, yeah, I'm taking an introductory Yup'ik class at UAA. It's a really interesting language and the instructor is great, so I'm enjoying it a lot and thinking seriously about taking the second semester, even though that class is only offered during the day and I'd have to rearrange my work schedule a bit to do it. (There's also an introductory Dena'ina class next semester that I'll probably take too.)

We haven't gotten very far with syntax, but it's definitely an ergative-absolutive language, so I presume it has some sort of antipassive. The second semester may get into more of that stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 1:55 AM
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Yeah Smearcase, entertain us. I'm up all night guarding a business with a yard full of metal and trucks. I don't do these gigs very often but Xmas is coming and it's easy money.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 2:02 AM
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Oh, I guess in 239 I didn't address the question of why I was taking it. Partly because it'll helpful for my job, since I deal with Yup'ik-speakers a lot, but also just from general interest. It's an especially interesting language from a linguistic perspective because the structure is so logical and systematic, and it shows a lot of common linguistic phenomena in more obvious way than many languages do.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 2:08 AM
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I'm up all night guarding a business with a yard full of metal and trucks. I don't do these gigs very often but Xmas is coming and it's easy money.

How much do you get for the metal?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 2:08 AM
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Again with the Yup'ik class?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 2:39 AM
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"Americans are more racist now than in the days of Bull Connor" is epic blog trolling (and deservedly successful) but I would expect nothing less from the author of "The German Army never committed any atrocities against civilians" and "Chinese mothers demonstrate their superior cultural values by smashing their five-year-old daughters in the face with books".

Is Britta Ogged?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 2:48 AM
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177. It's extremely easy to google recent pictures of children watching public executions, but I will leave it as an exercise for those who like looking at that sort of thing.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 4:56 AM
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Your mentioning vitriol directed at Ms. Obama makes me think that one of us lives in a bubble. You're probably right to think it's me: I'm certainly not consuming white trash media to the extent you are, and most of the people I talk to in my daily life have politics pretty much like mine. There are some glaring exceptions, though, but while they might complain about the ACA, I don't hear anything about the FL. (Really not since it was a bust in the 08 primary campaign . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 5:04 AM
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and most of the people I talk to in my daily life have politics pretty much like mine. There are some glaring exceptions, though...

I was shocked a few weeks ago to find that someone who seemed generally sane was a full blown member of the cult of George Zimmerman. Neither Z nor guns were the subject of the conversation as I recall, he just started ranting about it out of the blue.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:00 AM
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...one of us lives in a bubble

I want to build one of those houses where they spray cement on the outside of a giant bubble and you get to live in a dome.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:25 AM
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The "mainstream" conservative media (Limbaugh, Beck, etc.) goes absolutely nuts over Michelle Obama, complaining about her "ghetto booty," talking about her eating fried chicken, calling her loud and trashy, and stopping just short of calling her an ape. Considering Michelle Obama has done nothing but embrace a very traditional First Lady role in an objectively uncontroversial way, it's hard to explain all the vitriol towards her except as displaced racial animosity that can't be taken out her husband.

Given the kinds of things Limbaugh said about Hillary and even Chelsea (he was calling her ugly when she was a 13 year-old girl) when Bill was president, I think hatred of women more than explains it. And I don't see that much reluctance to take out racial animosity on Obama himself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:35 AM
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This set of tweets about being black at U of Michigan are the kind of things the white male presumably straight students just aren't thinking about and definitely shows the "acting acceptable" dynamic at work.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:43 AM
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172: I think you have a point here. Zimmermann is a paradigm case of gun-ism, if that is a word. I read (possibly here) a really weird article by an NRA type about the altered state of consciousness they achieved by concealed-carrying.

However, it's racism that explains who it was that happened to end up being his figure 11.

In a different society, i.e the UK, he might have shot a Gypsy three times in the back having camped all night under his stairs, or a Brazilian in the head because is that him no wait yes no but fuck he's getting away bang!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:54 AM
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Also, 257. Remember the 90s Hillary Clinton obsession?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:56 AM
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She was a lesbian having an affair with Vince Foster.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:56 AM
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I don't see that much reluctance to take out racial animosity on Obama himself.

Well, quite.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 6:58 AM
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I go back and forth on the Clinton hatred versus the Obama hatred. In retrospect the 2008 question of which would drive the conservatives nuts was "Yes". The modes of attack differ of course, don't think MO has been accused of decorating the Christmas tree with sex toys yet. But the "under God" Gettysburg Address "scandal" was exactly the kind of thing any Dem prez would suffer. But the fact that the conservatives feel that racial stereotypes against MO are fair game (and there are many) is telling and the MSM subtly endorses them (if not consciously) through their general silence and occasional reinforcement.

I have a lot of poorly-formed thoughts on this whole subject that are probably not worth writing down, but the fact that our current media landscape supports a large segment that promulgates bigotry (of all kinds) with only occasional mild reproach from "respectable" outlets (and much reinforcement, see Rev. Wright) is one of the most hideous and telling characteristics of our current situation. It exploits the "comfortableness" and seeming naturalness of the messed up racial context that people (especially older people) were raised with before all those kids got on their lawn and injects it right into our national discourse and politics. And the MSM is simply awful in its response (and much of that due to their own unacknowledged racism).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:10 AM
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Speaking of the MSM pandering to racism, the Daily Express outdid itself today:

http://www.thepaperboy.com/frontpages/archive/Daily_Express_21_11_2013.jpg


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:12 AM
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252, 253

She also had someone murdered, IIRC. The difference is Hilary portrayed herself as not your typical First Lady who would take an active role in policy, whereas Michelle Obama has really done her best to be Jackie Kennedy 2.0. Hilary's cause was universal healthcare, Obama's is ending childhood obesity. The Clintons are an interesting comparison because the animosity against them was also racialized, as someone pointed out above.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:13 AM
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And Oprah Winfrey's recent remarks (see below) and RW firestorm over same are very relevant to the whole discussion. Folks can find their own links to the firestorm.

As long as there are people who still, there's a whole generation - I say this, you know, I said this, you know, for apartheid South Africa, I said this for my own, you know, community in the south - there are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:14 AM
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I have a lot of poorly-formed thoughts on this whole subject that are probably not worth writing down...

Mouse-over?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:16 AM
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257

I mean, not that attacks against Hilary weren't completely ridiculous, but Michelle Obama has attracted similar levels of vitriol despite trying to be as traditional, low-profile, and uncontroversial a First Lady as possible.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:23 AM
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Shorter me: there is a whole segment of the media industry that is predicated on keeping alive the hatreds of the past in the service of supporting the more general repressive interests of entrenched, powerful monied interests. Other segments of the media are to a large extent in the thrall of those same interests and do fuck all in terms of effective "policing." The sitting VP is interviewed by Rush fucking Limbaugh and it is barely a ripple.

And we all have the seeds of bigotry within us that can be exploited. And as a general rule, the older the more exploitable for several reasons one of which is the less-enlightened racial attitudes more prevalent in the past.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:25 AM
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Somebody make me go look at at statistics book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:39 AM
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And speaking of political media, I mentioned Mike Allen the other day, and Erik Wemple (whom I don;t have pegged very well) at WaPo has written a pretty devastating* piece on how blatantly Allen ("The Man the White House Wakes Up To" per the NYT) reinforces the reputations of his advertisers in the "news" part of his newsletter. BP and the Chamber of Commerce being two examples. Not sure how to interpret WaPo on Politico violence, but the article is certainly a thing among the 500 (or whatever number they use) today.

No one here cares about this, of course.

*Actually it just makes explicit what the whole media empire is engaged in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:43 AM
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This is like when I posted all night to myself about the Federal Health Insurance Exchange rollout isn't it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:45 AM
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It's certainly no help at all at figuring out how to model what I'm trying to model.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:46 AM
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make me go look at at statistics book

AT-AT statistics?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:46 AM
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I've figured this out. I'm going to have to fly between the legs of the walker and trip it with a cable use survival analysis.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 7:50 AM
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I don't really have anything against survival analysis, but I've always tried to avoid it in case I write something about a "cocks proportional hazards model".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:15 AM
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Shorter me: there is a whole segment of the media industry that is predicated on keeping alive the hatreds of the past in the service of supporting the more general repressive interests of entrenched, powerful monied interests.

I think it's worth noting that the entrenched monied interests are not necessarily being cynical in their support of the hatreds of the past. Many, perhaps most, at the top sincerely believe the myth of meritocracy (and the corollary that the state of African-America is due to inferiority). I believe the Koch brothers, for example, sincerely believe that what they are doing is not just serving their own best interests but also serving the interests of social justice understood to mean everyone getting their just deserts according to how hard they work and how smart they are.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:23 AM
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"cocks proportional hazards model".

The main hazard being mole, of course.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:24 AM
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Cocks proportional hazards, Mohel.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:30 AM
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Cocks proportional, wizard Mohel.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:34 AM
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I liked 261. Also 262, as I also need to go look at a statistics book.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 11:49 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 5:00 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 5:00 PM
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"The German Army never committed any atrocities against civilians"

What?! I take it this refers to the German Army during World War I? Oh yes they did (if rape, arson, and mass executions of civilians count as "atrocities," which I think they should -- and no, this was not just Allied propaganda, though obviously used by the Allies for recruitment and propaganda purposes).

Sorry for the interruption. Please return to regularly scheduled trolling.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:32 PM
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276: we had this fight awhile ago. Although I don't recall the particulars, I do remember that everyone played their appointed role.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:36 PM
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Indeed, I believe ajay was referring here to things Britta said in that thread (which I had stopped reading by that point).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 8:49 PM
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277: Ah. Well, I'm a day late and a dollar short, as usual. Please excuse.

(A few months ago, I was a little bit surprised to hear an American tell me that he thought the US had entered World War I "on the wrong side." Turned out he not only hated Woodrow Wilson, but also saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a model of multi-ethnic, multi-culti tolerance that was on its way to creating the blueprint for a new Europe, if only those bloody Brits hadn't intervened. I disagreed. Not about Wilson [I don't much care for him, either], but about which side the US should have been on [I think they judged that one correctly].)


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 9:09 PM
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Indeed, I believe ajay was referring here to things Britta said in that thread (which I had stopped reading by that point).

And it was an oh so very *highly* accurate summary of my viewpoints, too.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 9:42 PM
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If you didn't change your argument constantly I'm sure people could do a better job.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 9:48 PM
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I think there's at least a pretty good *argument* for being, not exactly pro-German in WWI, but at least thinking that it wouldn't have been that bad relative to other outcomes had they won, especially, say, quickly at the battle of the Marne.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:02 PM
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I mean, a Wilhemine German dominated France, Russia that doesn't collapse under Lenin, some kind of surviving Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Britain faced with a strong naval competitor and a more unified continent sounds ... not that bad. Paradoxically Germany got worse during the war so the arguments for winning it got better.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:11 PM
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Plus tbh I just like those hats with points.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:20 PM
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So is 283 an argument for the eventual US cours elf action, or what?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:26 PM
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Yes, cours elf. I've never meant anything more.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:27 PM
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I remember that thread. Halford was very wrong.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:29 PM
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About the pointy hats? No, I think he was right about that.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:32 PM
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but also saw the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a model of multi-ethnic, multi-culti tolerance that was on its way to creating the blueprint for a new Europe

The Austrian half wasn't that bad on the tolerance front, which meant it also was a complete political basket case as the various ethnicities were at each others throats. The Hungarians were horrible. Unfortunately nobody was about to put the Austro-socialist model of non-territorial federalism into practice. It probably would have been a complete mess, but an interesting experiment.

283 There's no way it wouldn't have been even less democratic than Wilhelmine Germany. The idea was to annex Belgium, some more of France, and Poland. Between the ethnic minorities and the SPD that would have meant the German conservative and protestant 'liberals' in the minority. And it's not like Wilhelmine Germany was particularly democratic to begin with.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:37 PM
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and Britain faced with a strong naval competitor and a more unified continent sounds ... not that bad.

And yet!: it sounds worse than the actual outcome of WWI, if you don't like those hats with points (which I don't, frankly, but to each his or her own, and YMMV, as we say on the internets). The
Brits were not the let's-invade-and-occupy-the-continent aggressors of World War I, despite the manifest superiority of their Navy.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 10:37 PM
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Taking a long view, it seems pretty hard to imagine an alternative outcome of WWI that would be worse than what actually happened.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 11:20 PM
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And, really, just as hard to imagine things turning out better. There are just so many variables in play, and if you change any one thing in that time period, the whole world we live in unravels.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 11:40 PM
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Well, yeah, but that's sort of a fundamental flaw with any of this sort of thinking.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-21-13 11:42 PM
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You're more right than me, though. The mass death unleashed by the thing -- and I guess you even have to give some credit to WWI for Mao's great leap forward -- is pretty hard to top. I mean sure, you can be all 'you thought the Belgian Congo was bad, get a load of the German Congo' but the current timeline has spotted alternates a pretty high score.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 12:03 AM
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I think there's at least a pretty good *argument* for being, not exactly pro-German in WWI, but at least thinking that it wouldn't have been that bad relative to other outcomes had they won

Well fuck you, then.


Posted by: OPINIONATED HERERO | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 2:08 AM
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Christ, is someone going to bring up Britta's WWI position every single time she comments? Because it's going to get pretty fucking annoying.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 2:30 AM
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291: one is suggested by this little insight.

"William [the Kaiser] is ungrateful, nervous and plain," noted the Liberal politician Lord Esher in his diary, during the Kaiser's visit to London in 1908. "Grey [Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary] had two long talks with him. At the first he declaimed violently against the Jews. 'There are far too many of them in my country. They want stamping out.'"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 2:56 AM
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The word I'm most interested in there is "plain"


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 3:25 AM
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Plain-spoken, presumably, from the context.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 3:35 AM
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Because it's going to get pretty fucking annoying.

I dunno, I'm kind of into it. Anyhow, what better tribute to the actual historical events than to be periodically roiled by echoes of the original event?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 5:16 AM
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I thought about "roiled by echoes" for a while, and then I thought "you know what, I'm going to go with it."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 5:17 AM
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It's no "cours elf", but it's pretty good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 5:20 AM
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I mean sure, you can be all 'you thought the Belgian Congo was bad, get a load of the German Congo'

AND TODAY'S LIBTARDS WILL NOT REST UNTIL THEY CREATE A CONGAN BELGO


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDPA | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 6:24 AM
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297 -- Wait, so your argument is that the upper levels of British society weren't extremely anti-Semitic? I mean sure the Kaiser was an asshole but that same sentiment could have come from at least 1/3 of the House of Lords at the time.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 8:39 AM
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I'm sure there were a great many antisemites in the upper reaches of British society, but it's sort of hard to imagine a German Chancellor Disraeli or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 8:43 AM
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In fact, in 19th century Britain, IIRC, being anti-Semitic was associated with being anti-German, one of the complaints being that Germany (or at least its economy) was too Jewish.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 8:46 AM
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There's an immediately pre-WWI Saki novel predicting a German conquest of Britain that is anti-Semitic in exactly that way: conquered London is overrun with 'cosmopolitan' Jews. Also, the Germans put up signs forbidding Londoners from walking on the grass in the parks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 8:53 AM
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Wait, so your argument is that the upper levels of British society weren't extremely anti-Semitic?

What? No. That was in response to 291, which asked for " an alternative outcome of WWI that would be worse than what actually happened", and "all of Europe dominated for decades by authoritarian dictator who wants to stamp out the Jews" would count. Yes, Britain in the 19th century was rife with anti-semitism, but I think you'd be hard put to find, say, Edward VII - or Haldane or Salisbury or Lloyd George for that matter - saying "oh, yeah, definitely need to get rid of the Jews".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 8:58 AM
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the Germans put up signs forbidding Londoners from walking on the grass in the parks

That's fantastic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:00 AM
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Do Germans not allow people to walk on the grass in their parks?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:02 AM
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I thought that was the French, actually, but if so: even more fantastic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:04 AM
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||

Fashion threadjack! I need bifocals!

These, these, or these?

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:22 AM
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Is that list exhaustive?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:25 AM
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Well, I'm too exhausted to look for any more. But I'll accept suggestions.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:29 AM
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312: The first says it can't be made as bifocals. If you have a strong prescription or large differences between eyes, I'd get the framed lenses. To make the unframed ones look good, you'll pay more for compressing the lenses. That said, I like the third.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 9:50 AM
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315: I thought I'd set the filter to catch that. Hrmph.

I think I'm going to let Caroline pick my glasses for me. I need a little bit of 10-year-old girl in my look.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 10:15 AM
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Worked for my father.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 10:22 AM
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How does your father know Caroline?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 10:23 AM
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Topically: This is horrible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 10:37 AM
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319: Jesus. That is seriously fucked up.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 10:51 AM
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WWI was probably the most destructive war in world history. People who defend it retrospectively are just generally fans of total war as a way to solve problems. If you're going to defend a course of action that led to 75 million violent deaths over 35 years before things started to take a turn for the better, what exactly wouldn't you defend?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-22-13 6:29 PM
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Also, catching up on the thread in general I agree with 193 on class, and think furthermore that the right way to take these issues on is by starting with the lens of class more than race. You should track the actual form of domination that is working in the society at the time. What McManus calls our current 'regime of accumulation' is generally speaking not a matter of one racial tribe enslaving and looting another racial tribe, it's about a particular type of class domination in which U.S. blacks are uniquely disadvantaged for historical reasons. But some groups of whites are experiencing downward mobility and exploitation, and various members of non-white races (sometimes whole non-white racial groups) are benefiting as well.

This by the way is why its so easy in the culture to denounce 'primitive' expressions of direct racism. They are old fashioned and hearken back to a previous and now outdated and declasse regime of exploitation. In contrast you can express all kinds of contempt on the basis of class and success and be in tune with the mainstream.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 11-23-13 9:10 AM
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319: my first suspicion is that the owner has failed to make his contribution to the Police Retirement Fund.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 11-25-13 4:37 AM
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