A Philosopher's Blog

Monkeys & Politics (Again)

Posted in Politics, Race by Michael LaBossiere on February 19, 2009

A while ago Rush Limbaugh’s show created a bit of a stir when a caller compared Obama to Curious George. This was regarded as some as racist because such comparisons have long been part of the vocabulary of racism.

The most recent flap involves a cartoon in the New York Post. This cartoon shows the body of a bullet ridden chimpanzee and two police officers. One officer says, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.” Some people have taken the chimpanzee in the cartoon as being Obama and have concluded that the cartoon is thus racist.

The charge of racism has been countered by the response that Obama did not write the stimulus bill. As such, the argument goes, it cannot be a racist attack on Obama. Rather, one might say, it is a hackneyed use of a monkey comparison to express the view that something is a stupid idea. Of course, the cartoonist might have intended it to be a shot at Obama and merely been unaware that Obama did not write it. Or perhaps he was aware of this and simply wrote the cartoon that way anyway.

Determining whether it is racist or not obviously requires determining whether the chimpanzee in the cartoon is supposed to be Obama or not. Even if the chimpanzee is supposed to be Obama, there is still the question of whether the cartoonist intended to be a racist comparison or not. If the cartoonist used the chimpanzee because Obama is black, then that would seem to indicate racism. If he merely used the chimpanzee as a hackneyed symbol of a bad idea or a foolish mistake, then this need not be racist. Unless, of course, it can be argued that any comparison between a black person and a primate must automatically be racist.

It might be claimed that the author’s intent is not important. Rather, the  fact that the image is perceived as racist makes it racist. On one hand, this has some plausibility. To use an analogy, suppose I, without any intent to insult someone, say something that she takes as an insult. Since she was insulted, one might reason, my remark was insulting.

While it is appealing to believe that an insult is in the eye of the insulted, intent still seems to matter. For example, if I honestly say to someone “you ran well in the race today” and she takes it as an insult because she thinks I am being sarcastic, then she is making an error. Even though she feels insulted, that is her mistake and hence not a wrongful action on my part. Likewise, if the cartoonist had no intention of making a racist statement, then even if people think it is racist, then they are in error.

It might be further argued that certain things (such as monkey comparisons) are intrinsically racist so that intent is irrelevant in regards to whether the thing is racist or not. For example, if someone call me a “honkey” because they are unaware that it is a racist expression, then they might not be a racist but the term is still racist. This does raise interesting questions about whether terms, images and such can have inherent racist properties. The most plausible view is that they can have extremely strong racist associations such that their use is always tainted with racism. In the case of the chimpanzee cartoon, the use of such an image in a way that it might possibly be associated with Obama could be seen as sufficient to make the cartoon racist-even if the cartoonist had no such intent.

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42 Responses

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  1. biomass2 said, on February 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    “Intent”…Absent a diary, an incriminating email, a phone message, a video tape, or some other concrete evidence, “intent” is virtually impossible to determine. Lack of intent is an effective defense for a guilty individual who is intelligent enough to leave behind no trace of intent.
    In addition, some individuals, like the Post cartoonist often hide behind an assumed veil of ignorance, claiming a simply unbelievable lack of awareness of the racist implications of their actions. It would seem to be a win/win situation for anyone wishing to demean another human being and get away with it.
    But I believe the issue could be resolved (to my satisfaction, at least) if we would apply the following standard —and forgive, please, the minor changes in your word choice and emphasis: “. . .the use of such an image in a way that it might possibly be associated with Obama [IS] sufficient to make the cartoon racist [clause deleted]. . .”
    Why would I make these changes? I’m convinced that any US citizen of average intelligence who wasn’t raised in a social bubble knows a racial slur when he sees one or utters one. Just one example: Does anyone here really believe George Allen didn’t know the meaning of the word “macaca”?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm

      Evidence for intent can often be discerned from the action in question. For example, if the officer had said “They’ll have to find someone else to be President”, then a racist intent could be inferred with reasonable confidence.

      Also, facts about the cartoonist in question can also shed light on his intent. For example, does he have an established history of racism or not?

      In the case of the cartoon, the author might very well have intended to mock those who wrote the stimulus bill. While the cartoon can certainly be interpreted as racist, there are still grounds for doubting that interpretation.

      • biomass2 said, on February 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

        What works in civil or criminal courts does not always work in the court of public opinion.

        Many talk radio personalities and TV talking heads make inflammatory statements, knowing full well the implications of what they have said. They understand that, if controversy arises over their blatherings, they can throw up their hands and claim they had no idea–that they’re “‘shocked’, shocked” they say, that anyone could possibly so misinterpret their intentions.

        I expect one who makes a living in communication (as, I assume, an editorial cartoonist does)to be sensitive to the most obvious interpretations (and possible misinterpretations) of his/her message and to make his choices accordingly. If he fails to do so, in my court of opinion, he’s guilty.

  2. Kernunos said, on February 20, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Obama did not write the stimulus bill. The authors were both white.

  3. Kernunos said, on February 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Oh, and the authors are both idiots just like a chimp.

  4. magus71 said, on February 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    true on both. i hate all chimps by the way. i would have killed it even if it didnt attack someone.

  5. magus71 said, on February 21, 2009 at 8:10 am

    ”I expect one who makes a living in communication (as, I assume, an editorial cartoonist does)to be sensitive to the most obvious interpretations (and possible misinterpretations) of his/her message and to make his choices accordingly. If he fails to do so, in my court of opinion, he’s guilty.”

    1) Obama’s half white, right?
    2) He didn’t write the bill.
    3) Only the twisted Left takes offense. To everyone else–it’s a damn cartoon. And if this goes on much longer I’m going to start showering people’s blogs with all the hateful cartoons about George Bush. Actually, in an attempt to start another jihadist riot somewhere–hear’s a link to a Danish cartoon depicting a certain Prophet.

    And anyone is the Sudan who wants me dead because I posted it better come well armed.

    • biomass2 said, on February 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

      Two videos from the recent presidential campaign:

      Add to this what the Philosopher says above:”. . . such comparisons [between blacks and monkeys] have long been part of the vocabulary of racism.”

      Now I ‘might’ believe the guy in the second video above (He exudes an aura of ‘childlike innocence’ :)). But I must stand by my claim that a professional communicator (like the Post cartoonist)bears responsibility for his product. In this particular case, I don’t know what believable claim of ignorance he could possibly hide behind to justify his failure to see the likely (mis)interpretations of his “art” (see videos).

  6. kernunos said, on February 21, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Ummmmm, I still contend that the writers were white.

    • biomass2 said, on February 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm

      And the monkey was black. And there was only one.

      The artist could have depicted two black monkeys. Or two white monkeys. Or he could have used a time-honored technique of editorial cartooning: He could have printed the name(s) of the writer(s) on the monkey’s chest (one under each bullet hole).

      But the artistic skill required to do that–as well any understanding of the possible ramifications of his ‘artistic/political’ endeavors–is apparently far beyond his pay scale at the Post.

  7. magus71 said, on February 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Again–OBAMA DID NOT WRITE THE BILL!!!!!

    So any interpretations that include the monkey representing Obama–are by Liberal race mongers who are obsessed with this issue.

    America–get the hell over it. Victimologists (Lawyers) please read Shakespeare’s, William VI, ACT 4 Scene 2, and do the job yourself.

    The constant harping on this stuff is causing more resentment in America, thus causing more racial tension.

    Stop Whining.

    Stop Suing.

    Go to work.

    Read a history book written before 1990.

    Find out who sold the slaves to “Evil White Men”.

    When a hurricane blows through and you’re told of its arrival before it shows up, drop everything–yes, even the government cheese, and the stolen VCR–and leave. Go to the Astrodome. It’s dry there.

    Even if you’re white, take my advice. You’ll be happier when you don’t feel like the world owes you something.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

      Interestingly, David Gergen regards the cartoon as racist. While I think that his view can be argued against,he does present some excellent reasons for his interpretation. Given his roles in the Reagan and Bush administrations, he cannot be dismissed as a liberal race monger.

      However, this does not prove that there are not liberal race mongers who are pushing the race angle.

      My main point is that there seem to be legitimate grounds for having concerns about the cartoon and there are also legitimate grounds for disputing such concerns.

  8. biomass2 said, on February 22, 2009 at 11:18 am

    “Again–OBAMA DID NOT WRITE THE BILL!!!!!”
    We know- two or more– white men did. But there was only one black monkey in the cartoon in question. See my last post.

  9. kernunos said, on February 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    A white man and a woman wrote the bill. Also if you shave the chimp he just may look white. I’m pretty hairy with black hair but I am white underneath just like a chimpanzee. Gorillas have dark skin. Biomass2 you should really know your bills and primates better. As for racism you seem to have that down pretty well. :)

    • biomass2 said, on February 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm

      Who were the man and the woman, anyway? If you have a link I’d like to read more about them, because that’s a pretty prodigious output for two people in such a short period of time (even for congressmen–who are noted for their ability to churn out the bullbutter).:)

      You know, I still believe it’s the cartoonist’s responsibility to know his primates and,more importantly his profession. Even rudimentary artistic skills would have enabled him to depict a shaved (and therefore white)chimp. The physical features of the animal, minus the hair, would likely be enough for most of his readers to identify the animal as a chimp. An unexpurgated version could even distinguish male from female.:)

      “As for racism you seem to have that down pretty well. :)”
      You catch that hummingbird yet, or have you finally settled for the caterpillar? :)

      • kernunos said, on February 23, 2009 at 8:16 pm

        “Who were the man and the woman, anyway? If you have a link I’d like to read more about them, because that’s a pretty prodigious output for two people in such a short period of time (even for congressmen–who are noted for their ability to churn out the bullbutter).:)”

        It would be even more prodigious for one man like Obama? Would it not?

        Look, monkeys and chimps in political cartoons are to make the subject look simple and not ‘black’. A perfect example is all the political cartoons depicting George Bush as monkey/chimp like in appearance. This relationship is supposed to show stupidity and not race. ex.

        http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/bushcartoons/ig/Bush-Cartoons/Worst.-jOj.htm

        the problem is when you have a black president everything that can be made as a ‘stretch’ to be racist will be voiciferously claimed by the left as in the example of the chimp/stimulus package cartoon.

        It is the left that always brings up color.

        Ok to make George Bush look like a monkey.

        Not ok to mention author of stimulus package(which may or may not be the president) as related to a monkey.

        Seriously, can we move on? I am so sick of the race card. I think the president is wrong about the stimulus bill. I think this is because he is an idiot about the economy and it has nothing to do with him being black. I also think a monkey can do a better job. I know a monkey could do my job better than I do.

  10. magus71 said, on February 23, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Wow–we used to have John Browns because of slavery…now we have this.

    • biomass2 said, on February 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      magus71: That would imply. . .fanaticism? In the early 21st- century to expect a professional cartoonist(or a politician, or banker) to recognize the need for — let alone accept– responsibility may indeed be evidence of a somewhat fanatical position. After all, these days when the new president admitted he ‘screwed up'(He prettied up the language later.) he was ridiculed. At one point the previous president was excoriated by many for admitting no mistakes. The 41st and the 37th president lied to the American people to cover up mistakes (or worse). “Responsibility” has become a landscape with no features.

      Responsible/Irresponsible: a distinction without a difference.

      In my case, it’s more just a matter of unrealistic expectations: I thought “rights” and “responsibilities”–remember that phrase?– should be of equal importance: But it seems we Americans are well along in the process of ditching the last half of that bargain.

      I admit I should have know better.

  11. magus71 said, on February 24, 2009 at 4:59 am

    John Brown fought and died for a real problem. I doubt he would have put in the same effort for cartoons . Point being–people who make a big deal of this, regardless of what the cartoon was depicting, only prove that America is a great place–because they’re so bored as to consider it the drawing a big problem. Come to Europe–see real racism. All the holding hands the Europeans pretend to engenger is a cover for extreme xenophobia. All the socialism in the world won’t change that.

  12. magus71 said, on February 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

    And if the Secret Service thought the monkey was portraying the President, the artist would be getting a knock on his/her door and an interview with a Man In Black.

  13. biomass2 said, on February 24, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    “And if the Secret Service thought the monkey was portraying the President, the artist would be getting a knock on his/her door and an interview with a Man In Black.”

    Johnny Cash? :) I don’t believe the issue here, as I’ve represented it, is making a threat on the president’s life. In fact I’m certain I’ve concentrated on the possible racist aspects of the cartoon–and incidentally on the cartoonist’s ineptitude.

    Perhaps the Secret Service wants to concentrate on direct threats on Obama’s life and leave the underlying racial issues to be dealt with in the ever-evolving discourse that has arisen as a result of his candidacy and presidency.

    Go to Central Pa. where I was raised, and watch for the veiled references and the sideways glances and the silences that arise daily (as a matter of second nature, unthinkingly, and, they think, without malice or racist intent) among some people when they encounter a person of color. Cordiality on the surface. That is the anchor of the red band that separates blue east and west in that state.

  14. biomass2 said, on February 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    kernounos: Missed your reply earlier. Still no idea who the authors of the bill were, eh? You were so certain it was a male and a female. . . :)

    “Look, monkeys and chimps in political cartoons are to make the subject look simple and not ‘black’.” ??? What I know, for example, is that I’ve seen political cartoons where the focus,in this case the monkey, is labeled specifically to render the cartoon more easily understood and/or to prevent misinterpretation. I’ve seen that and most likely you have, too.On the other hand, I haven’t (and I doubt you have either) seen enough political cartoons to make a blanket statement like “. . .monkeys and chimps. . .ARE to make the subject look simple and not ‘black'”

    “It is the left that always brings up color.” Seriously. . .And is it the right that always yells ‘nigger’ at a Palin rally?

    I’m sick of the “race card”, too. Here’s the way I see it: There’s been a deck of race cards for centuries in this country , but now both sides are playing.

  15. Anonymous said, on February 24, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I thought I heard that Pelosi and Reed were the main names as authors. You claim it was Obama’s because of the cartoon. I did not see his name on the bill, eh? You were pretty certain it was his because of the cartoon…..:)

    Did you hear someone at a Palin rally yell ‘nigger’? I have proven that the mainstream media has lied many times in another post on this blog.

    “I’m sick of the “race card”, too. Here’s the way I see it: There’s been a deck of race cards for centuries in this country , but now both sides are playing.”

    You do not seem very sick of it if you think it is good for political reasons or for the means to an end.

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/bushcartoons/ig/Bush-Cartoons/Worst.-jOj.htm

    Oh look, they made George Bush look like a monkey. Is he black? I’m confused. Maybe you can just rationalize your way around the truth again Biomass2.

    ….and who did they make look more like a monkey in this one. Bush’s features are purposely mad to look more like a monkey in this next cartoon to show stupidity. A white president and a black president side by side and the white one is made to look like a ‘SIMPLE’ monkey. I thought color trumped simplicity with primates. Go figure.

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/bushcartoons/ig/Bush-Cartoons/Keys-to-the-Economy.-jOc.htm

    Keep on going though and connecting the dots for us that are so much more simple than you. Tell us what things mean for us, just like the current administration and all Liberals. You all know what is best for us after all.

  16. biomass2 said, on February 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    a nony mouse:

    You “‘thought’ you heard” that, did you? Did you also hear that the bill came out of the House sponsored by David Obey? As I said before,it’s hard to believe one person (Pelosi in the House) could pen a bill of such length. And it came out of the House with a passel of amendments, quite a few of them written by Republicans. Did you also hear that after the House passed it the bill went to the Senate where it underwent further revision (including further concessions to Republican wishes– in the form of changes written by Republicans) before it was voted on and passed? So you think you “heard that Reid and Pelose wrote it.” :)

    “Did you hear someone at a Palin rally yell ‘nigger’?”

    About 17 seconds in. . .

    Or just for fun, listen to this:

    Now you can claim these have been doctored.Of course my father was convinced the moon landing was all staged in Hollywood. Good luck with that mode of thought, mouse.

    . . .Oh, and this is lots of ‘fun':

    “You do not seem very sick of it if you think it is good for political reasons or for the means to an end”

    I must have hit a hot button somewhere in there.Where did I mention political reasons or ends? You arrived late at this party, so it might help if you go back and read my posts. My purpose in all the posts has been to point out what I ‘believe’ are the likely racist components of the cartoon ‘and’ that the cartoonist is less than competent at his profession. If you find otherwise, please point that out. I do find it quite intriguing how hard people work at ignoring that obvious lack of competence for their ‘own’ political reasons.

    You know as well as I do (well, maybe you don’t) that the Bush cartoons have little to do with this situation. This issue is about the poorly realized message of this cartoon, in the context of a clearly charged racial atmosphere among certain segments of this society . That’s what makes it’s worth discussing. Hey, if you don’t want to believe the videos, just drop in on any of the innumerable conservative and ultraconservative blogs where the discussion is much less civil than it is here. Hit the ‘/’ on your keyboard and do a “Quick Find” (This works on Firefox) for the word ‘nigger’ or the many colorful variations thereof.

    And try this test—and be honest:Many blacks are offended by the Post cartoon: they feel their race is being offended and threatened and by extension so are they as individuals. When you see those Bush cartoons are you offended and/or threatened for your race or for yourself or for your party?

    “Maybe you can just rationalize your way around the truth again Biomass2.”

    This is interesting, coming from someone who 1/basically makes up what seems to fit his view (See paragraph 1 above)and 2/ personally “rationalize[s] [his] way around the truth.” (See three videos and your attempt to shift the focus to the Bush cartoons ).

    Don’t forget to tune in to Obama’s speech tonight—and, for any readers who might miss it, I’ll clearly flag this as a blatant political plug. :)

  17. magus71 said, on February 25, 2009 at 5:08 am

    I wonder if he’ll be wearing boxers or briefs…

    I’m sure that’ll be a topic of discussion on The View.

  18. Kernunos said, on February 25, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    “This is interesting, coming from someone who 1/basically makes up what seems to fit his view (See paragraph 1 above)and 2/ personally “rationalize[s] [his] way around the truth.” (See three videos and your attempt to shift the focus to the Bush cartoons ).”

    1). I was wrong and acknowledge this and as I said I heard this. This does not mean I made it up as you say. 2). I rationalized this because I hang out with many Conservative people and I have never heard one of them use the word as a descriptive of a person. This is not in the description of being a Conservative and would obviously be wrong to use. If someone used it at a rally then I’m sure it was an extremely small minority. I’m sure Palin would not condone its use either. wouldn’t be hard to fake this kind of video or have a Lib activist yell it. Not saying it happened but it wouldn’t take rocket science. The media made up all kinds of things about Palin as in stating she said Obama was a terrorist. Liberals do just about anything as a means to an end.

    I’m not sure where you are going on this line of thinking.

    As for the political cartoon I did not see it as racist as Obama did not write the bill(obviously a collective as stated by you) and I have always seen Chimps and monkeys as relating to stupidity with the subject of the cartoon. The (collective writers both Dems and Repubs) are obviously stupid.

    I think that makes the cartoon very effective.

  19. biomass2 said, on February 25, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Sorry, but what YOU wrote originally was “A white man and a woman wrote the bill.” No modification, no “maybe” or “perhaps”. So, this is very confusing to me.
    I asked you (“kernounos”) for proof of your contention and I got no proof from you. Then “anonymous” wrote “I thought I heard that Pelosi and Reid wrote the bill. . .” But now, ‘you’ “kernounos” write:”. . . as I SAID I heard this.” Problem is, “anonymous”, NOT “kernounous” was the one who wrote that He/she “heard” it. What gives? I’ m looking for another explanation that doesn’t include the possiblity that your were posting as “kernounos” and “anonymous”.

    I’m not sure how you could be sure that Palin would not condone such statements. I never claimed she did, but, I guess I could just as easily and flippantly declare that she would. There-we’re even.

    Means to ends. Dirty tricks? Do we need a list, starting with Lee Atwater to prove that Republicans, too, will “do just about anything as a means to an end.” There–I’ll say we’re even, even though I’ve provided specific proof and you haven’t.

    And you think my line of thinking baffles ‘you’? :)

    Also, it looks like the marketplace has forced a decision about the cartoon we’ve been discussing.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iIyc-0PYjHge-dlv0t4khfZN03Rg

  20. biomass2 said, on February 25, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    magus71–CNBC and CNN reported “low-rise briefs”. PBS and CSPN reported “boxers”. CNN reported “a thong” (eww!), and Fox reported “nothing at all”. :)

  21. magus71 said, on February 26, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Al Sharpton is threatening litigation against Rupert Murdock. How did I know it would come to this….

  22. biomass2 said, on February 26, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Rerhaps “any reasonable person” could have expected it? :)

    • biomass2 said, on February 26, 2009 at 8:29 am

      “Rerhaps”? I’ve gotta be kidding me.

  23. magus71 said, on February 26, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Death to all chimps…They’re a scourge.

    • biomass2 said, on February 26, 2009 at 8:35 am

      “Death to all chimps…They’re a scourge.”

      As you’ve said before:”. . . i hate all chimps by the way. i would have killed it even if it didn’t attack someone.”

      Don’t you think you should “wash” and “rinse” your messages before you recycle them? :)

  24. magus71 said, on February 26, 2009 at 8:17 am

    By the way, I can tell from “anonymous'” writing style that it’s noy kernunos. Besides, isn’t the name kernunos anonymous enough?

    Oh–and yes I would call Al Sharpton a race monger. He loves this kind of thing and basks in the attention he can gather form making stupid comments about it. Plus, maybe he can get some cash out of the deal–because he’s so “offended.”

    America–Home of The Victim.

    • biomass2 said, on February 26, 2009 at 9:00 am

      “By the way, I can tell from “anonymous’” writing style that it’s noy kernunos.”

      I’m sure at some point you or kernounos will explain the discrepancies. . . :)
      Repeat:
      biomass 2: Sorry, but what YOU wrote originally was “A white man and a woman wrote the bill.” No modification, no “maybe” or “perhaps”. So, this is very confusing to me.
      “I asked you (”kernounos”) for proof of your contention and I got no proof from you. Then “anonymous” wrote “I thought I heard that Pelosi and Reid wrote the bill. . .” But now, ‘you’ “kernounos” write:”. . . as I SAID I heard this.” Problem is, “anonymous”, NOT “kernounous” was the one who wrote that He/she “heard” it. What gives? I’ m looking for another explanation that doesn’t include the possiblity that your were posting as “kernounos” and “anonymous”.”

      At this point, “’tis a puzzlement!”

      I’ve written quite a bit on this page;I have tried to concentrate on the possible implications of a poorly crafted editorial cartoon. I don’t believe I’ve mentioned Sharpton or victimhood once. Correct me if I have. You, I believe labeled the objections as victimhood.
      Since I obviously think that’s incorrect, I ignored it and dealt with subjects like what a professional cartoonist using his tools professionally could do to avoid such likely interpretation of his work, what a professional communicator should know about the possible effects of his work, etc.

      Hey! You’ll get no argument from me about Sharpton and victimhood and race- mongering. We all remember Tawana Brawley. . .

      But, please! Victimhood in this country isn’t limited to blacks.

      • magus71 said, on February 26, 2009 at 12:09 pm

        I’m not accusing you of talking about Sharpton. i’m merely pointing out what happens when we fail to admit the progress this country has made in th elast 200 years.

        Ye4s it was and is me who thinks this is Victimology. (The science and study of making money off making groups of people feel like victims, and reacting disproportianately to “offenses”.

        No, victimhood is not limited to blacks, though several of their public “leaders” keep thge hatred going. Though I’m not an Obama fan, I’ll admit he’s been noble enough to stay away from race-mongering. I question what he knew about Rev. Wright’s beliefs, though his response was excellent. He said the major problem he had with Wright’s rant was not that it spoke of racism, but that it failed to acknowldge where we’ve come in relation to where we were.

        By the way, according to this article:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/us/politics/27obey.html?_r=4&nl=pol&emc=pola1

        Representative David Obey (D)Wisconsin, was charged by Speaker Pelosi with writing the bill. He and several Democrat staffers wrote the bill. I’m assuming that staffers mean secretaries and paralegal types.

        From the first page of the bill itself:

        From the actual bill itself, H.R. 1:
        “Mr Obey (for himself, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Waxman, Mr.George Miller of California, Mr. Oberstar, Mr. Gordon of Tennessee, Mr.Frank of Massachusetts, Ms. Velazquez, and Mr. Towns) introduced the following bill…”

        Mr. Frank at least is a chimp–of sorts.

  25. biomass2 said, on February 26, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I’ll just pick up points in the order that they occur to me:

    Thanks for the detail, but there’s nothing new that I didn’t already know or allude to.I previously noted this –to kernounos, or anonymous, or whomever– when I wrote: “. . .the bill came out of the House SPONSORED by David Obey”? I also mentioned the ‘Republican amendments’ that were contained in the House version. You can google those if you wish. We’ve pretty well laid to rest the pernicious claim that the bill was authored by one or two people of whatever color.

    I never denied prgress. I did, however, point out what I’ve observed going on around me. That’s progress, for certain. And a lot, compared to where we were just 60 years ago. But—if I criticize one incompetent(in my opinion) editorial cartoonist and I don’t at the same time “acknowldge where we’ve come in relation to where we were” am I’m playing the race card? Am I denying progress? If I wear a large pin in my lapel that says “Race relations in this country have greatly improved in the past 200 years”, would that have a similar effect to a little flag pin that all candidates seem compelled to wear these days? Would my pin, in your opinion, confer upon me any degree of immunity from race-baiting allegations? Maybe I should wear an armband and a wristband as well. . .

    “public “leaders”: True in the case of Sharpton. What about Limbaugh and Barack the Magic Negro? Didn’t that word fall out of favor a while back? It had a fairly obvious connection to the times in this country when racism was a serious problem- – -again, a mere 50-60 years ago. Dropping its general usage (though specific uses are still acceptable) was a way of moving on from the past–showing “where we’ve come in relation to where we were”. Thanks, Rush for a rush to the past I’d rather not revisit.

    I would imagine the ‘disproportionality’ of the reactions would vary considerably, depending on, for example, whether you or someone with whom you sympathize is the victim or the victiimizer, and that includes one’s differing perceptions of the seriousness of the act–including its immediate effects, and even it’s possibly more widespread repercussions.

    “The science and study of making money off making groups of people feel like victims, and reacting disproportianately to “offenses”.” Kinda like Rush and Sean (who have quite a following, of sorts, and seem at times to be the real “leaders” of current conservative thought) making a bundle by convincing people that they, the people, are victims of MSM offenses? Or how people who make a million a year are painted by some as ‘victims’ of a 4% federal tax offense (%40,000— the salaries of a servant-and-a half?)? Or trying to convince us that an increase of taxes on the rich will, unequivocally, be a “job-killer” and in some way, it will victimize you and me? Where are the historical facts to prove that?

    Just for the ‘eck of it, here’s another definition of ‘victimology”.

    http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/profiling/victimology/1.html

  26. magus71 said, on February 27, 2009 at 2:57 am

    You do realize, that the Barack The Magic Negro Song was a parody of an LA Times Article, titled–not surprisingly– Obama the “Magic Negro.”:

    Here it is: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ehrenstein19mar19,0,5335087.story

    $40,000 is the salary of a servant and a half? Soldiers are less than servants, then. And we have to fight and die for mall shoppers. It sucks. But we won’t complain nearly as much as the mall shoppers. I prefer the Spartan life.

    Time will tell if increasing taxes on the wealthy is a good idea. Doesn’t make much sense to me, but economics seems like postmodern astrology anyways. If there was a formula that worked everytime, seems like we’d just keep using it. Then again, people love to tinker with even good things.Especially when it’s not them being directly affected. And they think Marx was a decent bloke.

  27. biomass2 said, on February 27, 2009 at 9:55 am

    A parody of an opinion piece. At least we’re sticking with the original topic of Michael’s piece and more specificaly to the points I’ve been making since the beginning.
    There seems to be dissonance, even within the Republican party, about the parody. Ask Chip Saltsman, and concentrate on the last portion of the following article– “‘Barack the Magic Negro’ controversy”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chip_Saltsman

    And Gingrich’s reaction? “There are no grounds for demeaning him or for using racist descriptions.”Like responses from Mike Duncan, and Saul Anuzis had similar reactions.

    Not surprisingly the two black candidates for RNC chairman saw no problem with the CD.Is it possible that they (unlike Saltsman) have some sense and sensitivity? Might they realize that, being black, if they would make objections, their chances at the position would be next to nil? In politics, it doesn’t matter what color you are– black, white, yellow, green–you might want to keep your eye on the prize and make concessions if you want to get ahead.

    The upshot is that this ‘innocent parody’ with its obviously questionable intent ironically came back and bit a huge gaping chunk out of poor Chip Saltsman’s political gluteus maximus.

    “$40,000 is the salary of a servant and a half?” Just a guess. That’s about twice the minimum wage:8 hrs/day X 20 days/mo X 12 months. $26-27k per servant. About $14/ hour. I’ve read in a couple places that Cindy McCain pays out somewhere between $170-250k for servants in a year. Don’t know how many she needs in her various properties OR IF, for example, groundskeepers and other staff, are considered servants. No surprise they get more than the military though: Just look at the fights in congress over benefits for current and past members of our armed forces.

    Yup. Put two or three economists in a room, you’ll get two or three opinions supported by theories that, depending on what’s actually happening on the ground, might make sense or not. Taleb’s Black Swan puts it all in a more realistic perspective.Basically, determining risk is guesswork, because it doesn’t take into account the one-in-a-million black swan.
    The turkey blissfully accepts the farmer’s food day after day. Looks forward to it(If the turkey, at that point, could assess risk, he’d probably recognize little to no volatility.)He begins to associate the farmer with food and all that’s good.Then comes Thanksgiving, the turkey’s black swan. Poor, dumb, s…..
    Right now, as I mentioned earlier, we’re contending with two or three Black Swans. And economists and politicians are vociferously proclaiming that they KNOW what will work and what won’t. Go figger.

  28. biomass2 said, on March 3, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Just noticed this today and felt I should add it.

    http://newsone.blackplanet.com/nation/california-mayor-emails-white-house-watermelon-picture/

    Apparently, “Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn’t mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.” He meant it as a “joke”. I could stop here and ask two simple questions: 1/ If there’s not a connection with the ‘black’ president why, particularly this year, depict watermelons on the front lawn of the White House? 2/ If there’s no racial intention, what, exactly, would make this humorous? Would not tomatoes have worked as well or better? Green beans? Marijuana? (Clinton didn’t inhale. :) There are suspicions about Bush. Obama inhaled “frequently”.”)

    No need for me to repeat the second paragraph of my initial post above. As might have been expected, the creepy-crawlies are coming out of the woodwork, using the same excuses. Supposedly Grose, at this point has yet to apologize for the racial implications–and I’m not open to the “Whites eat watermelon, too.” argument that’s out there, since whites haven’t been regularly in the past associated with watermelons but blacks have in our culture. In the English language “coming in contact’ with, as in eating, does not usually mean ‘being associated with’. Now I predict someone will likely come breathlessly to the mayor’s rescue with the argument that it’s only a cartoon.

    Here’s a good explanation/ response:

    http://www.cafemom.com/journals/read/1259194/Black_Stereotypes_of_Watermelon_Slavery_Pictures_and_oh_yeah_that_darn_Obama_Buck

    Note the particular association of the various stereotypes with ‘slavery’. Whites don’t have a ‘slave’ history. They have a ‘slaveholder’ history. Those are two mighty different social backgrounds to emerge from.

    Comedian I saw today pointed out that the good Mayor apparently, up to this point, has been more willing to admit stupidity than to admit racism.

    This kind of thing has happened often enough in the last 8 months, during the campaign and currently, that it simply cannot be written off as ‘lack of awareness’. That simply doesn’t wash. If we, as a culture, truly wish to move on from here, let’s stop putting such stupid crap out there. That and the defense of it only keeps the embers glowing.

    Add’l:

    http://www.blackculturalstudies.org/m_diawara/blackface.html

    I’m not sure of the validity of this author’s conclusion since whites have rarely in my memory ever been associated with watermelons. Sure, they eat them, but -until the recent example she cites–only ten years ago–they haven’t as far as I know been associated with them. And even then it has only been in a ‘humorous’ context that could–could–be on the photographer’s part simply a weak attempt at a “laying down of cover” for future racial slurs based on old stereotypes.

  29. Bill case said, on September 9, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Seriously? The finer points of racism? Let’s analyze this down to the tiniest detail why don’t we. Or why don’t we get the sand out of our vaginas, referring to you, and grow up and act like men. Quit supporting the hypersensitivity of racism. Laugh at it. Don’t add to it. Don’t make a big deal about it. It has been around for 6000 years. It will always be around. Again. Grow a sac and deal with it. This was for whoever the moron was who started this nonsense. Piss off phag

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 9, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Bill, thanks for your contribution.

      Understanding a complex matter typically involves analyzing the details-this is standard practice in the sciences, philosophy, engineering and so on.

      I do appreciate your fine examples of ad hominem attacks against me, but such attacks do not have any logical weight. You’ll need to develop a better line of criticism if you want to step up from trolling to arguing.

      While the idea of mocking racism has some appeal, it is not clear that would solve the problem. But, do you have some evidence to the contrary?

      As far as it having been around for 6,000 years even if that were true it hardly follows that it is not a big deal or that it will always be around. People have worked hard to fight evils, disease and ignorance despite the fact that they have been around for a long time. The fight for a better world is well worth it-that is what contributes to the value of our existence: to create a better world in which to live and to pass on to those who will follow us.

      As far as growing a sack and dealing with it, that also seems to be odd advice-unless you think that sacking up would end racism. In any case, thanks for adding to the conversation.


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