Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A thought about racism

Stripped of all physical and demographic attributes, Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor are intelligent, experienced and quick-thinking people at the core, well-suited for the highest levels of public service. Though race has played a key role in shaping their experiences, they'd be assets no matter who they were.

Republicans, on the other hand, choose women and minorities based solely on the fact that they're women and minorities, such as Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas. They do this to combat their well-deserved reputation as the bastion of the Angry White Male, even though all they actually achieve is a more diverse-looking bastion of the same outdated ideas. And, on top of that, they're openly proud of this.

So which side is more racist, really?


Robert Taylor said...

Your conclusions are wrong because your premises are untrue. Obama and Sotomayor are not "well-suited" for public service because government by definition is a negative thing.

Your question is far too complex to answer correctly EVEN IF government were simply for the public good. I can personally name MANY individuals who are not ethnic minorities who could perform a much better job.

Which party is more racist? I guess its the one you say it is, Ian. :(

Ian McGibboney said...

Robert, your premise is flawed and, frankly, extreme. Government does serve a purpose, and I guarantee it's helped you in more ways than you'd ever admit.

And if there are people better than Obama and Sotomayor, it isn't because of their ethnicity one way or the other. That's my point to begin with.

Who are those people to you, Robert? Inquiring minds want to know (especially since you don't seem to believe in leadership).

Robert Taylor said...

How will we ever know if they're out performance of Obama and Sotomayor is or isn't about their ethnicity? What if science proves without a doubt one race is superior to another in the vain of the bell curve? Would you now justify racism, Ian?

I can throw out a name to amuse you, Ian: Ron Paul. Oh, and he's white!

TJENKINS said...

Oh yes Obama and Sotomayor are the greatest people ever and anyone that opposes them are OBVIOUSLY racists! Thanks for this well thought out missive Ian. Let's ignore that Obama and Sotomayor themselves are racists, but hey who cares about denigrating those mean old honkeys, eh comrade?

I know you won't "approve" this comment, because you're a pussy, but I don't care as long as you read that's all I care about.

Ian McGibboney said...

Robert - My entire point is that ability ISN'T tied to race/sex. One party has recognized that, while the other pretends to recognize that but is actually being more racist by pushing/punishing people exclusively for their race/sex. How hard is that to understand?

Teej - If Obama and Sotomayor were really racists, don't you think this majority-white country would not have put them where they are? Obama is not a racist, either openly or covertly, and Sotomayor has been told by a white Republican male that she is going to be confirmed by a wide margin. The only people accusing them of being racists are those who feel threatened by some nonexistent Turner Diaries fantasy.

And, as I said in the blog, it has to be race because her resume and overall decision arc have brought bipartisan support. More teabagger resentment.

TJENKINS said...

"My entire point is that ability ISN'T tied to race/sex"

But you support "Wise latina" Sotomayor who thinks it is, and has said so in speeches numerous times over the last 10 years.

"it has to be race...."

Right, it's all about her race. I searched but I don't see where you excoriated Democrats for not even giving Miguel Estrada an up or down vote when Bush nominated him for the DC Appeals court, I guess it's only racist when Republicans appose Hispanic nominees, eh? Funny how that fits perfectly with your narrow ideology.

Ian McGibboney said...


I support Sotomayor because of WHO she is, not WHAT she is. It is you, not me, who suggests that that support is simply because she's Hispanic. It's not, which is why Bush's far-right Hispanic nominees didn't get a free pass.

Teej, you are proving my point better than I ever could. Thanks!

NOLA Progressive said...

I'm definitely not following the "government by definition is a negative thing" idea. Government is completely necessary and serves many positive functions. Certainly it is abused and has negative facets. Sometimes it does seem like the negatives outweigh the positive, but when held up to the light, it's not so. Without government we would have a largescale Lord of the Flies state.

Ian, I just don't understand why people have such a difficult time understanding the point of your posts. I took the original post to be aimed at the idea that Democrats, especially as of late, pick a candidate based on qualification and ability. It just so happens that the candidates were and are African American and Hispanic. (Obama and Sotamayor).

On the other side of the coin the Repubs are seeking out the minority status first and putting them into the fray regardless of their ability to effectively do the job. I would assume Sarah Palin and Michael Steele would be obvious examples here.

So Ian I take your ultimate point to be here that quality comes before quantity. Race is a determining factor in relation to ability. So in your estimation Ron Paul is on an even playing field with Obama or anyone else. His white status doesn't hurt or help him when it comes to ability to govern. Of course would apply one's own estimation of what his successes and failures have been.

Like it or not folks, minorities on the whole have a much more difficult road to hoe in the country than anglos (more specifically anglo males). A minority woman who has accomplished the things that Sotamayor has accomplished justly can claim that she hopes a decision she made in a racial or sexual discrimination case would be better than that of a white man not having had to deal with that struggle. You can keep perverting that statement to mean all you want, but it is what it is.

If you don't agree with me, simply take a very observant stroll through the South. Listen to the way people speak about minorities when they think that they can't be overhead or hell even when they think they can be overhead at times. There are some disturbing frames of mind out there en masse. The people saying these things and holding these opinions aren't just nobodies. They are coworker, business owners, state employees, federal employees, and people in situations to sway outcomes based on their opinions.

Ian McGibboney said...

NOLA, you're absolutely right about all of this.

I grew up in south Louisiana, in a mixed-race neighborhood, without a lot of money. I never saw blacks as "others," simply because I knew many from an early age. It wasn't until I heard racist remarks at a later age that I realized superficial differences. And by then, I knew to frown on that perspective.

I think most Americans understand that racism is not cool, even if they practice it. That's why today's white supremacist movements are underground, and why any allusion to such is couched in euphemisms such as "neighborhood schools" and "traditional values." When people complain about political correctness, they're really lamenting their inability to get away with saying really mean, stereotypical things (case in point: in response to one of my college columns, an anonymous white guy wrote in and complained that he should be allowed to chant the N-word along with his favorite song in public).

This also ties in to the so-called "traditional marriage" movement, which is really a last gasp for acceptable anti-gay tirades.

With Steele, Palin and Thomas, the GOP is parading diversity on its face and nothing else. Not only is that a weak attempt to one-up the Democrats, but it's the most racist/sexist thing imaginable.

To close, I got an e-mail this afternoon of a column suggesting that universities began endowing chairs specifically for conservative professors. Surprisingly, the words "affirmative" and "action" never appeared. So funny how the right is so blind to its own transparent hypocrisy.

musing said...

Before it could prove that one race was superior to another, Robert, science would first have to define what "race" is. Since that hasn't yet happened, scientifically speaking, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen--or make any long-term plans based on any such assumption.

And Teej, if you want narrow ideology, give Jeff Sessions a call. It's a fucking laugh riot to watch the only man ever to be denied a seat on the federal bench because of a proven record of racism try and tar someone else with the racist brush. The fact that he sounds like Foghorn Leghorn just makes it slightly more comic than it would otherwise be.

musing said...

Ian, the e-mail you reference in your last comment reminds me of a comment I once heard one of my history professors make at a departmental reception for a visiting speaker. She said she'd be more than happy to support hiring more conservatives in the humanities--just as soon as the business schools and law schools started supporting hiring a few more Marxists.

Affirmative action, just like adultery, sexual perversion, lying, deficit spending, and the like, is only bad when people who aren't Republicans do it or benefit from it.

Ian McGibboney said...

Musing, the problem in the first place is that they think Marxists are already all over the place. Everyone to the left of Sean Hannity is Marxist to them! Thus, the persecution complex. Some people I know scoff at the notion that southern colleges are conservative. Heh! They come ask this former liberal columnist about his experience.

Robert Taylor said...

@musing, so what you're saying is that if science CONCLUSIVELY proved that races do exist and that certain races are smarter than others, then racism would be ok?

@NOLA Progressive all you say in your comment is that the masses can't be trusted, so we must assign an elite group of people YOU agree with to run the country. It's fucking sick. If you think the masses are so fucking bad, then you have no hope in humanity and government is truly worthless.

Ian McGibboney said...

Robert, anarchism is a dream. In a power vacuum, someone inevitably takes over. I'd rather have a society that chooses its leader through popular support rather than the first armed thug who claims it by force. If that's elite to you, than so be it. Elite is not always a pejorative term.

As for what you said to musing, nowhere did he suggest that racism is ever OK. He is questioning your claim that such quantification is a possibility. In any case, that is an absurd hypothetical.

NOLA Progressive said...

Robert your leaps of logic are very puzzling and ironically aimed specifically and your anti-government slant.

I absolutely don't trust the masses with no system of checks and balances. I trust many different people. So do most folks. That is why we all get together and vote for the people that we trust or possess some confidence in to create a somewhat organized system that provides for establishment of a reasonable environment in which to live.

The point is that that there is indeed hope for humanity. I'm only stating that as with all things in life moderation is the key. Unfettered masses can be problematic at best and extremely dangerous at worst. Tyranical control by the government can also be dangerous, which is why I tout the idea of moderation.

musing said...

No, Robert, I am saying nothing of the kind. Yours is the fevered brain trying to find a justification for racism. I'm the one using facts and logic to point out to you that you're a lot farther away from your goal than you think you are. And given that science has more or less concluively demonstrated that there is no genetic basis for the sociocultural construct "race," it is extremely doubtful that science would ever conclusively prove that such a thing as "race" exists in other than an epistemological sense, much less that there are actual quantifiable differences between members of "racial" groups that can't be explained by environmental factors.


Robert Taylor said...

@NOLA You dont trust the masses, yet you believe in democracy which involves the masses. You're a walking contradiction. And yes, government by definition is tyrannical. If I dont pay taxes, I go to jail, if I refuse going to jail, I die. That is tyranny.

@Ian I am sorry but again you show your complete lack of understanding of economics. "In a power vacuum" means absolutely nothing considering that a small group of elites cannot ECONOMICALLY control a large mass of people against their will. Its common sense. Dissolving of government answers a lot of problems probably most importantly war.

As for the issue with @Musing MY POINT is that we should never use science to justify our ethical viewpoints. That should be left to philosophers.

Ian McGibboney said...

Robert, your definition of "tyranny" is creative. If you've ever so much as sat in a building that didn't collapse, you have been a beneficiary of government. Roads, parks, safety standards, police, firefighters, health inspectors, street lights, municipal power grids, public universities, etc., etc., all exist because of taxes and government.

Consider that not just for yourself, Robert, but in how you present your argument. The public rejected the GOP, and has always rejected libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism, because it's hard to truly buy the message that government is evil, and that private money will buy the people out of any problem (if we have it).

No, government is not perfect, but it does serve a purpose. For you and for me. And you know it.

Robert Taylor said...

@Ian I understand your argument. The positives outweigh the benefits. I GET IT. I am saying that it is more important to have THE CHOICE. You and I don't have it. That, is unacceptable both realistically and philosophically.


Ian McGibboney said...

Maybe. Are you suggesting that people should have a choice as whether or not they participate in government? OK, fair enough. But for that to work you'd have to never utilize any public works or abide by any federal/state/local standards. Otherwise you're just being a leech. And how and when would you make that choice? Can you opt in and out of it? Why would this work at all?

Robert Taylor said...

Holy shit Ian, you actually said maybe.

So you answered your own question: there wouldn't be "public" works, hence there wouldn't be public space. That means people couldn't leach. Ergo, opting in to the society you want would be akin to joining an organization where people choose to be ruled over.

People who don't want to participate get to govern their own property.

The point is, it's ethically the only consistent system that can exist. As I pointed out before, right now if I don't pay taxes, i have the threat of death. Yet no one in this society can threaten death against another. Can you say ethical contradiction? Exactly. Jesus man, logic.

Ian McGibboney said...

People with no society are going to start one, simply because it's necessary for survival. It's not like a club, where you choose to join or not. Even Ted Kaczynski needed to bike into town on occasion.

You also fail to have a plan for disputes. If everyone lords over their own domain free of law, what happens the first time there's a conflict?

Moreover, if it's the only ethical system that exists, why has it never been implemented?

And where do you get this idea that you can be killed for not paying taxes? Is there some law I don't know about, or is this just a typical leap of logic for you?

NOLA Progressive said...

Robert I am certainly no philosopher, but the way you preach logic as if you stood on sort of bully pulpit is off-putting.

How exactly do you think that an end to government would end war? You don't think other people would try and take what didn't belong to them? Governments or at least loose systems of organizations between people and groups of people, which are the predecessors of modern day government began for this reason.

People inevitably start to clump or band together and then when one group of them is stronger than the other they take things they want whether or not they are entitled to them.

The universal social compact here and most locales around the world is that we agree to give up a certain amoutn of control and money in order to have rules, laws and infrastucture enforced that the majority of us can agree on.

There is nothing contradictory here. It simply is what it is. I get you are some type of anarchy supporter and have developed a rationalization for the elimination of all government control, but it is a nonsense argument. If it was even legitimately possible virtually no one would want it. Sure some people would say, well I want to eliminate this law or this rule, but they would never go for stripping the security blanket that government provides.

The idea that we all just own our own thing and exist in a completely unregulated society where no one can tell us what to do isn't realistic. In fact, people who truly advocate this type of thing seem to live in small cabins in the woods in Montana and make bombs.

Robert Taylor said...

First off I will repeat what I said about taxes again: If I don't pay taxes, I go to jail. If I refuse incarceration violently, I die.

You keep showing that you have never delved into reading any literature on anarchism Ian I just have to point that out.

I never said the people who don't want to live in your state would be outside of society. They would have to work and buy and trade just like everyone else. Humans cannot live without society, especially at the level of civilization that we're at. Returning to simple farming is out of the question. Just because you stop paying taxes doesn't mean you stop working or buying food.

Of course the philosophy of Anarcho-Capitalism has a solution called DRO (Dispute-resolution organization).

Why has this system never been implemented? Several reasons:
1. Philosophical thought took a long time to come to these conlcusions
2. Economic theory took a long time to reach these conclusions
3. Supression by powerful armed organizations
4. General misunderstanding by smart individuals like yourself

The point is if you dissolve government, armed conflict becomes economically unreasonable.

Pete said...

White men questioning a wise Latina lady about her fitness for a lifetime appointment is racist. They should just apologize for being alive!

I learned that in my Liberal Logic 101 class last semester.

musing said...

Everybody likes the libertarian philosophy--until it's time to pony up to have that road paved or that bridge fixed. Those costs are normally invisible, since they're paid for out of tax dollars--which spread the pain of necessary infrastructure and essential services around so thinly that it's virtually invisible. (Well, except to that peculiar animal that seems to find the idea that having to pay taxes represents the most awfullest imposition EVAH on their ability to be perfectly free and independent. And even those cats don't seem to mind driving on public highways, depending on public servants, using public resources to educate their children--or, in this particular case, using a heavily publicly subsidized resource [namely, the intertoobz] to make snarky and ill-reasoned comments on someone else's blog.)

Ian McGibboney said...

Robert, just admit you're greedy and feel no obligation to anyone other than yourself and we'll call it a day. Because that's really what your little nirvana comes down to, isn't it?

For some us, it isn't all about money. I, personally, don't use force for moral reasons, not because of some cost-benefit analysis. If you need cost-benefit analysis to tell you how to behave, then government is the least of your worries.

Robert Taylor said...

@Ian Jesus man LIFE is about cost-benefit analysis. You are born Ian. You know you have a limited time on this earth. Hence, you ECONOMIZE your actions. You only act out of greed. If you were perfectly happy (Happy being a subjective term) then you wouldn't DO ANYTHING.

The concept of perfection ergo is incompatible with life. As is the concept of altruism.

So you want to call me greedy? Fine. But so are you, and so is everyone else. You haven't thought these things through and just assume like an African child whose starving that your society is the way it is rightly so simply because that's how it always has been.

Ian McGibboney said...

Let me rephrase: life decisions aren't entirely about money. Human nature is a factor that your philosophy completely ignores, to its fatal detriment. For anarcho-capitalism to work, everyone has to spend their entire lives in the pursuit of money and/or goods. That may seem no different than now, but your system places no value on time spent not earning, and in fact makes any downtime a threat to survival. No thanks.

I'm not saying what we have is perfect, but neither is nothing.

Robert Taylor said...

@Ian oh I'm sorry Ian you want to get shit for free? Why didn't you just say so. The problem is that you have to eat. So it's not really free, someone is working for you to live.

Economics places no value on anything. That's up to the individual. You want to be told what should be valuable to you, why don't you join a religion?

If "downtime" is so valuable to you, then work hard, convert that labor into a trade-able currency and then enjoy your downtime.

Don't subject people who have no interest in your life to have to work hard so that you can lounge around and blog, or force them through violence to live under the value-system of your choosing.

Ian McGibboney said...

That's nice. Accuse me of being a leech on society just because I don't advocate anarchy. Well, I work full-time and am fully independent, so your accusation rings hollow. No one supports me or tells me what to value. That includes you.

Robert Taylor said...

@Ian nonsense Ian don't play games, I responded to your comments. Read them again and tell me what you meant.

E.J. said...

For the love of God, just quit responding to Robert. You're only encouraging him.

Ian McGibboney said...

There's always a point where he makes zero sense. That's when I stop. He hit it.

Hathor said...


What if science proves without a doubt one race is superior to another in the vain of the bell curve?

How can science prove this when science has disproved a biological basis for race.

This is the 21th century, not the 19th the genome rules. If they do find a gene for intelligence I wonder how it would fall, especially since 1 in 5 Americans have an African ancestor less than 5 generations. How could you tell if skin color correlates.

Would you have a spook in the closet?