Join me, if you will, in a moment of utter, deep cynicism. That would mean you thinking, for just a moment, exactly like I think every second of the day. This will be painful for you, unless you are already where I am…..

Read more ….

Comments

  1. #1 Linker
    August 19, 2009

    You may think I’m over doing it,

    No, you are just very, very mentally ill, Greg, if you really believe it. When Obama was elected, some folks wondered if any criticism of his policies would be decried as merely being racism. Fortunately, it didn’t happen, until now. And so the propaganda begins. You either support Fearless Leader, or you will be branded a racist.

    If it’s just ideological hate and propaganda, then it’s too bad we don’t have a real District 9 so you can claim any one who dares question this slapdash health bill has been having sex with aliens.

    And I don’t even defend ignorant folks who shout at the town hall meeting, but they are just that: ignorant. I’ve attend a meeting and talked to them (have you?). Among other dumb things, they really are afraid some government panel is going to tell them when to die. This hate propaganda is not going to educate anyone. And if you aren’t interested in educating anyone, and just want to wallow in your pissy little cloud of hate, please shut the fuck up and let the adult try to deal with this.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Linker, yes, I have spoken to them, and yes, I’ve spoken to diversionists such as yourself. In fact, you are the object of the post to which I’ve linked. You are playing the “playing the race card” card. You’ve thrown in the accusation of mental illness and so on. Please consider using the other buzzowrd when a liberal screams out of frustration: Hyperbole. In which case, I will, of course, kick your ass again.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Obama is being branded an alien who hates white people and wants to destroy “our” way of life and government, and Greg is starting the propaganda? Pointing this stuff out is equivalent to endorsing Apartheid? Linker, try paying a wee bit of attention to what’s happening around you and what you’re saying. Unless you’re trying to make Greg’s point for him, of course.

  4. #4 Dunc
    August 19, 2009

    The thing is, it’s not just any criticism of his policies that’s being decried as racist, it’s only the batshit insane criticism which has nothing to do with the actual policies. The fact that you can confuse the two is simply a symptom of the fact that nobody seems to be making any kind of reasoned, rational objection to the actual policies in question. Or if they are, I haven’t seen it.

    For Dog’s sake, they’re even going batshit insane over policies which were entirely uncontroversial when they were first proposed by white Republicans.

    Mind you, I do think there’s a hefty dose of political tribalism mixed in with the racism…

  5. #5 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    I think maybe Linker was trying to make Greg’s point for him. Well, even if not trying, she/he was doing a pretty good job of it.

    Among other dumb things, they really are afraid some government panel is going to tell them when to die. This hate propaganda is not going to educate anyone. And if you aren’t interested in educating anyone, and just want to wallow in your pissy little cloud of hate, please shut the fuck up and let the adult try to deal with this.

    I cannot honestly believe that you were serious when you wrote this. Were you? Do you know what some of those other “dumb things” are? Dumb things like not believing that our President is even a US citizen; like believing that the government is planning to take away everyone’s guns; like believing that non-Caucasian individuals are inherently inferior and deserve lesser human rights; like believing we are close to the “end times”, and that our President is the anti-Christ; etc.

    You’re right. The hate-mongering, fear-mongering, conservative-owned-and-operated media has no intention of educating the ignorant fools who believe their outright lies and sinister propaganda.

    So, please, shut the fuck up and let the adults handle this.

  6. #6 Russell
    August 19, 2009

    Greg, I think you’re wrong in a way that weakens our ability to fight the lunatic right. What once was an overtly racist ideology, not many decades past, has morphed into something different. It is still paranoid, nativist, hateful, and ignorant. But it is a movement that happily would elect Alan Keyes as president, and that would be just as extreme in its response had John Kerry been elected in 2004. What they hate about Obama isn’t that he is black, but that he supports secular government, that he is somewhat liberal, that he has a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, and that he otherwise pulls the rug out from their ideology of what it means to be American. They would equally vilify a white Texan who did the same. If you doubt that, consider how Molly Ivins was hated by them.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of racism there. It’s just that that’s no longer what is driving the culture war. The lunatic right has evolved. Not in the sense of moral improvement. It’s just as ugly as it ever was. It still derives a large part of its ideology from the Lost Cause. It is still bigoted, though the new favored target groups are gays and city dwellers and scientists. Identifying it as racist will fail, because that has largely been excised from its ideology.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Russell, I see that they’re happy to point to Keyes and say, “Eh? Eh? A black guy who agrees,” but I don’t see any evidence that they’d vote for him. In fact, they didn’t.

  8. #8 Julie Stahlhut
    August 19, 2009

    While I don’t think racism explains all of the hatred directed at Obama and his health care proposals, I do agree that it’s a major component of the tinder pile. (Does anyone seriously believe that if John McCain had won the election, liberal “birthers” would be yammering about his birth in the Panama Canal Zone?)

    The current atmosphere reminds me of the misogynistic vitriol directed at Hillary Clinton by the right when, as First Lady, she got involved in the health care battles of 1992-1994. The mess wasn’t fueled by purely fiscal disagreements between liberals and conservatives — people like Rush Limbaugh were fueling an anti-Hillary frenzy, and all of a sudden we had the proto-teabaggers of the early 1990s calling her a “feminazi” and, fergodsakes, accusing her of shooting Vince Foster.

    There’s a very well organized effort going on to play every race and gender card known to history, and it’s not liberals who are bankrolling it. And it’s hardly a conspiracy theory. A conspiracy is secret. This is absolutely all out in the open.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    This isn’t all racism any more than the anti-H. Clinton vitriol was all sexism. But the level of and importance of (and role of) racism (sexism) is not diminished.

  10. #10 NewEnglandBob
    August 19, 2009

    I agree with the the body of what Greg is saying but not the tone so much.

    I like what Russel said in #6, Julie in #8 and Greg in #9.

    Somehow it needs to be aired in public so that the media stops featuring the right wing crazies and call them what they are.

  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Bob, what’s the appropriate tone for confronting one of the biggest poisons in our society? This isn’t supposed to make you comfortable.

  12. #12 Sean
    August 19, 2009

    I don’t understand you Americans. You don’t seem to realize the extent of the trouble you are in. Your country is basically a fucked up shithole, but many are still convinced it is the greatest in the world.
    The way I see it is this: If, with a good president, and Democrat majorities in both House and Senate, you cannot enact meaningful and useful healthcare reform, then why bother trying ever again? It would seem you have the best circumstances you could hope for, but still are not getting anything done. What the hell is wrong?

  13. #13 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Sean: To understand American politics, you need to understand the expression “managed population”. That traces back to a project of Edward Bernays in the 1920s, and his invention of systematic engineering of public opinion.

    Americans don’t generally have opinions of their own. They are fed opinions. The opinions they adopt are based not on any sort of reasoning or experience, but on group membership: Americans adopt the opinions of groups they would like to remain members of. They don’t actually interact much with other members of these groups. They watch TV, instead.

    A fraction of Americans are less easily managed, but they are concentrated in heavily populated states where their influence is minimal. They’re factored into the calculations. Rural populations are easier to manage because they have fewer sources of information and they interact with fewer other people. They have enormously more power than city people, through the Senate and the Electoral College, and there are fewer of them, so they are more cost-effective to manage.

    In the last election, black and hispanic people, less carefully managed (i.e. ignored), unexpectedly threw the election to Obama. That will be corrected.

    The reason policies and platforms are incoherent is that it simply doesn’t matter. A managed population does what it’s told, and the reasons amount to filler.

  14. #14 Linker
    August 19, 2009

    You’re not kicking any ass, Greg, anywhere at any time ever. Your lunacy is just making the fight harder for the rest of us. You are utterly sick, and the sooner you get help the better.

    Like Sean up there declaring America to be a “fucked up shithole.” That’s not rational observation. That’s mental sickness. Yeah, we have a boatload of problems. Welcome to the real world where, by the way, insane hyperbole never works.

    But I know you will never wake up. People like you never do.

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Linker, your claim about insane hyperbole would sound much more, oh, grounded in reality if the ridiculous claims about health care reform were less effective in derailing the whole procedure.

  16. #16 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    Your lunacy is just making the fight harder for the rest of us.

    Why does this phrase (or at least something very similar) keep cropping up lately?

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Linker, you are done here. Too bad you never provided any evidence that what we are seeing now is not unique in relation to prior democratic takeovers, or that the specific racist tropes that have been discussed and developed are untrue. You are not contributing anything worthwhile and I am annoyed at your remarks. Bye.

    People like you indeed.

    Does anyone have any actual evidence to refute my claim that there is a strong racist component heightening the level of bullshit in this argument? Or is it just that everyone has a feeling that I’m wrong?

  18. #18 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Greg, what you’re missing is that the influence of racism in American politics has always been absurdly heavy, but has been declining slowly and steadily. Now the remaining committed racists are more scared, and louder. The noise level is a good sign, because it reveals their new desperation.

    Progressive activists have always had to deal with a strong current of racism, and they have evolved ways to do it. You have just woken up to it, and haven’t gone through the process yet. Learn from those who have gone before. Shouting “racists, all o’yez” has been found by long and painful experience not to have the result you want.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Nathan, I’m not missing that this is a good sign. I am, rather, making a very different point, which is that the mainstream dialog (including places like the comments on blogs like this one) is full of people denying the importance of this, and lacks the kind of write-off we just saw by Barney Frank of these crazies. Am I wrong about that? Is the critique of the crazy racist people no longer necessary because they’ve dropped in frequency to a level YOU are comfortable with? I beg to differ.

  20. #20 dean
    August 19, 2009

    Here in the western portion of michigan it seems to be

    1) racism from the “traditional” white folks – the ones that have never given up their hard-core hatred of those different from them.
    2) racist-like distrust bordering on hatred, from people who don’t believe he is an American citizen
    3) distrust from the lunatic fringe who buy the “death camp” crap, as well as the other urban legends about what President Obama wants to do (great deal of intersection
    4) resistance from those who simply oppose anything put forward by a Democrat

    There is a great deal of two-way, three-way, and some around, intersections of these categories, but I don’t think any one completely contains another.

    With all that – we have had some relatively calm meetings about health care, which is a plus. We have had the usual wild claims at tea-parties, but the overt, public, displays don’t seem as numerous here as in other locales.

    To summarize – I don’t think the racism angle can, or should, be downplayed, but I contend it is fueled by different “sources”.

  21. #21 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    But we need to respect their idea that President Obama is less of a person because of his skin color. They believe differently than we do, but we should respect their right to do so, and we should sit down and shut up, or we’re going to ruin some peoples’ attempts to reconcile their “realistic” views with those of the “crazies”.

  22. #22 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Greg: Everybody knows they’re crazy racists, just as always. Shouting it from the rooftops has been found not to help. Crazy racists, like crazy sexists and crazy fascists, marginalize themselves. Their only systematic effect is as tools of the real enemy. Arguing with racists takes the pressure off the real enemy.

  23. #23 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Nathan, no one marginalizes themselves. That is only done by a society putting its foot down and declaring what is acceptable in public spaces. Racists did not quietly slink off to end Jim Crow. It was done with laws and a great deal of public speech.

  24. #24 Linker
    August 19, 2009

    All that’s needed is to let your insane rant speak for itself, Greg.

    “I also see half the liberals that I know as racists. I see almost every white person who lives in the suburbs and who has a job and an income with benefits as a racist. I probably think you are a racist.”

    Theoretical readers of your blog are probably racist? You know every white person in the suburbs? And you try and put the burden of proof on me to prove a negative? You’re the one making the wild claim, Greg. You’re the one with the burden to prove the claims of your madness.

    Ideology kills skepticism, folks. Kills it dead, dead, dead. Bogeymen begin to lurk in every corner and shadow.

  25. #25 mediajackal
    August 19, 2009

    What Stephanie Z said.

    Greg:

    ‘Bout time someone said it out loud.

    Nathan:
    It isn’t about arguing with the racists; that only grants their insanity an aura of rationality. It’s about dragging the racism from under the rock and exposing it to light.

  26. #26 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    When they say something overtly racist, you can call them on racism. When they repeat lies, you can call them on lying. Speculating out loud on why they lie doesn’t help. This same current of racism has underlain everything the reactionaries have done forever. Some things work, other things backfire. Learning which is which is time well spent.

  27. #27 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    Some things work, other things backfire. Learning which is which is time well spent.

    Ask the very vocal ones why they oppose the health care legislation. Ask them why they think President Obama is not qualified. Ask them why they think this is no longer “their country”. They don’t have clear answers, if any answers at all. Why? because the real answer is, in many cases, because of President Obama’s skin color. The reasons they’re shouting about are simply sound bites that they got from Glen Beck, et al.

    If calling them out on it isn’t going to work, what is?

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Linker, when I inspect the other comments yo’ve left on this blog (as the three or four different sock puppets you use) I see a range including valid and useful comments and stupid right wing apologist shit like you are spewing here. Because there is some variation I’m letting your comments stand. But I’m going to ask you to do two thigns:

    1) Actually read the posts before you comment on them. Don’t imbue them with meaning you expect to be there. In other words, don’t be so fucking stupid; and

    2) Try to pick one name and stick with it.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Speculating out loud on why they lie doesn’t help.

    1. This is an evidence-free assertion.

    2. This is not speculation. There are specific actions and specific events that have been pointed to, by Greg, by Dan, by me, by others. Treating racism as something for which there is no evidence short of telepathy is an enabling behavior.

  30. #30 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    If calling them out on it isn’t going to work, what is?

    Ask somebody who knows. Seriously, there are people who do. I’m not one of them. Probably they’re not even here. But they’re already trying hard. Get educated. More people doing what they do will help. You can help, or you can make things even harder for them.

  31. #31 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Huh. Considering that this is one of Greg’s areas of study, that he’s taken the time to find out what works to combat racism, why don’t we ask him.

  32. #32 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    Ask somebody who knows. Seriously, there are people who do. I’m not one of them. Probably they’re not even here. But they’re already trying hard. Get educated. More people doing what they do will help. You can help, or you can make things even harder for them.

    (emphasis mine)

    Now you’re sounding like Mooney and Kirshenbaum. (I had to actually say it outright this time.) You know there’s a problem, and you know there’s a way to fix it, but you don’t know what that way might be, but you do know that the way we’re doing it isn’t helping the situation, but making it worse. So, we should sit down and shut up about the racism and let the people who know fix things (though you don’t know who they are).

  33. #33 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    August 19, 2009

    Hey, Nathan, maybe this will help you:

    Harold’s Left.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Is anybody going to the Michele Bachmann Town Hall meeting? I’m thinking we can all crowd in there and shout non-racist, rational, helpful things about health care and global warming and stuff.

    Nathan: Stephanie is right. I know what I’m talking about. I like your advice about listening and learning. I recommend it.

  35. #35 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Greg: I will happily concede you’re a world-class expert in combatting racism, essay above notwithstanding. Are you equally expert in politics? Although there’s a big political dimension to combatting racism, and a big racist current in politics, confusing the two is not the recipe for success in either one.

  36. #36 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    According to which expert, Nathan? You’ve already demonstrated and conceded that you have no expertise in this area. Documentation will be required from this point forward.

  37. #37 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Nathan, I’m a blogger, I’m an expert in everything. But thanks for letting me know that I should not confuse politics and racism. I’ll try to keep that in mind. That you said that, that is.

  38. #38 Jason Thibeault
    August 19, 2009

    I just wanted to point out that this is the second time I’ve seen Nathan Myers, when challenged in such heated conversations, go for the passive-aggressive “you’re the master of debates” tactic. I don’t know how sarcastic his “I’ll happily concede” comment @35 is, but it sure felt that way to me.

    If you weren’t being sarcastic, Nathan, then good — I’d trust Greg’s judgment on both politics and racism any day of the week. The man has obviously had a wealth of experience in both fields, despite them not being his “area of expertise”. And, besides, as Greg said, he’s a blogger; we are supposed to act like we know everything about everything. There’s a contract you sign when you first apply to become a blogger, you see.

    I just got done posting a comment at my own place stating that the Venn diagrams for teabaggers, Deathers (the people claiming HCR will create death camps), Birthers, evangelicals, and I’ll now add racists who are honestly upset that Obama is president just because of his race (though they’d never admit such — which is why they make up all the crazy shit like the teabagging and birther conspiracies), very likely have a gigantic overlap. In fact, I’ll wager right now that you couldn’t find a birther who does not also at least sympathize with the teabaggers, death camp fantasists, or fundamentalist religiosity. This is the same bunch, responsible for much of the fauxtrage being pushed on the media day in and day out since Obama’s inauguration (and well before, even). Recognizing that these asshats are the same asshats is extraordinarily important.

    And recognizing that everyone else in the equation is being far more racist than is ideal, is also fundamentally important.

    But I’m not saying anything here that nobody else has yet suggested…

  39. #39 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    Okay, we’ve apparently got a political dimension to fighting racism, and a racist current in politics, and we’re not supposed to get the two confused, for that is not the path to Nirvana.

    I’m making myself more confused that way. Let me take a wild stab at this.

    Note: I have no psychological or cultural training which would serve to make my opinion on this matter any more valid than the average man on the street.

    There are a lot of people in this country who are racists. A lot of them vote. A lot of them are voted in to public office (by racists and non-racists). All of them are exhibiting reprehensible behavior. All of them should have their reprehensible behavior pointed out (in public, if possible) so that others can see them for what they are, and so that they can (hopefully) apologize for and correct their behavior.

    Public humiliation can work wonders.

  40. #40 Linker
    August 19, 2009

    as the three or four different sock puppets you use) I see a range including valid and useful comments and stupid right wing apologist shit like you are spewing here

    (eyeroll)

    I am not posting under any other names, and I did not apologize for the right wingers.

    You are 100% absolute fucking batshit delusional, Greg.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Linker, there are several comments, some a while back and some quite recently, with the same exact IP you are using now. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt assuming that you had more to say than this obnoxious drivel. I accept what you are saying and I’ll assume that the identical IP addresses are utter coincidence, or perhaps your roomates or something.

    So, since you in fact have nothing else to offer and have annoyed me and many of my readers then you are in fact gone. That was your last comments. Bye.

  42. #42 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Greg, I see this is something you feel strongly about.

    Dan, not all racists exhibit reprehensible behavior. The majority who don’t are commendable for their restraint. Many of them voted for Obama, in response to reason and against their deeply ingrained feelings. Spike Lee insists nobody can help being racist. I don’t know if that’s true, but what matters is what you do.

    I’m not an expert, but if shouting “Yur all racists, ever’ one of yez” drunkenly at the press, the congress, and the suburbanites had a desirable effect, I think we would see a lot more of it. They (racists, I mean) seem much better at drunken shouting, anyway.

    By the way, Greg, Linker is certainly impolitic, but he’s a better friend to you than some others here.

  43. #43 Sally
    August 19, 2009

    I don’t think anyone really looking at this can honestly say that there is not a huge component of this that is racist. I agree (looking at the OP on QM) that the press tends to not call the racists out, but some are doing this. It is likely that in fact the race card slap-down is a tool. But racism pales in comparison to the general libertarian “leave me alone until I need to dial 911 because my damn house is burning down” attitude.

  44. #44 Dan J
    August 19, 2009

    I freely admit that I still exhibit some non-rational responses which are based on the color of a person’s skin. I do my best to self-correct. Is this “racist”? To a certain extent, yes.

    Many people who exhibit non-rational responses which are based on the color of a person’s skin do not make any attempt at self-correction, as they think there is nothing to “correct”. They believe that their behavior is appropriate and waranted. That is reprehensible.

    ‘…shouting “Yur all racists, ever’ one of yez” drunkenly at the press, the congress, and the suburbanites…’ ≠ ‘public humiliation’

  45. #45 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2009

    Dan, you are dead wrong on this. These bozos must be called for what they are. Racist is part of it. Stupid is a HUGE part of it. There is virtually zero coming out of the Republican party. Do all Republicans really think and act this way, or condone it? No. Why are they silent? Why is everyone else silent, except the left wing bloggers, only the most liberal of cable TV hosts, and Barny Frank?????

    Can you answer this? Rather than focusing on whether or not you approve of my approach to drawing attention to an issue, can you say something about the issue? Or are you also trying to obfuscate so that we don’t address what is really wrong? Because really, that would be bad.

  46. #46 Nathan Myers
    August 19, 2009

    Probably we should be calling on prominent Republicans to denounce the lies, and embarrassing them for failing to do it. I.e., not accusing them of racism, per se, but making them denounce lying, which everybody knows amounts to the same thing.

  47. #47 Stephanie Z
    August 19, 2009

    Greg, I don’t think it’s Dan you’re disagreeing with. There’s a quote in there.

  48. #48 Dan J
    August 20, 2009

    Ummm… Now I am confused. LOL

    But on to something related:

    Can you answer this? Rather than focusing on whether or not you approve of my approach to drawing attention to an issue, can you say something about the issue? Or are you also trying to obfuscate so that we don’t address what is really wrong? Because really, that would be bad.

    This is exactly the type of questioning that was levelled at Mooney and Kirshenbaum re: loud, uncivil “new atheists”. Their focus is on disapproval of the message delivery, yet they don’t have anything backing up their assertion that the delivery they disapprove of is not effective.

  49. #49 Greg Laden
    August 20, 2009

    Stephanie, that’s what I meant (to criticize the quote). Sorry, Dan, you seem to have figured out what I mean though.

    It’s been a tough day, what with all these tornadoes and stuff.

  50. #50 Opus
    August 20, 2009

    Greg:
    I think of American history re racism as a series of shocks, each followed by a period of stasis. I grew up in the rural South in the 50s and 60s, so to my way of thinking this is the second of the cycles I’ve seen. This is overly simplistic and may only apply to the south, but, in short:
    – the first shock was the doctrine of the equality of all men from the Declaration of Independence, complete with an acceptance of slavery, followed by a period of stasis until 1861.
    – the second shock was the Civil War, which fractured the acceptance of slavery and was replaced with an acceptance of Jim Crow.
    – this lasted until the 50’s and 60’s, when overt middle-class and upper-class white supremacism was no longer acceptable due to the civil rights movement. It was replaced by a genteel racism in which whites were comfortable interacting with blacks, largely because they were secure in their superiority. (The overt racism remained acceptable in rural and lower-class whites.)
    – this stasis was irretrievably fractured when that sense of superiority was forcibly erased on November 4th. My sense is that there was a split: some went back to the overt racism while others moved closer to a mainstream, less racist view. The right-wing talk-meisters, birthers, etc are just wedges trying to move people rightward into an acceptance of the older, overt racism. To some extent it’s working, and yes, much if not most if it is due to racism.
    However, I’m optimistic that sufficient doses of ridicule and rationality, administered over time, will defang some of the more obnoxious of the current crop of racists. Remember, we’ve had white supremacists all along, they’ve just got new, temporary allies. The biggest mistake we could make is to heed the Mooneyites and soft-pedal our opposition to the idiocy. In time many of the people who’ve moved into the idiotic fringe will look around, realize they’re hanging out with nut cases and sickos, and move back to the middle, pretending all the while that they never really believed all that stuff about Obama. Don’t forget, the fire hoses moved a lot of white southerners out of the white supremacist camp.

  51. #51 alcoolworld
    August 20, 2009

    BRAVO!!!
    Bravo!!!
    I couldn’t have said it better!
    wait a second…
    how did Greg get in my head?
    must be gubment thought-stealing beams.

  52. #52 toto
    August 20, 2009

    Post summary: You start from the observation that their behaviour is irrational, and then you immediately conclude that it must necessarily and generally be caused by racism.

    I know that social sciences have different standards for “evidence”, but usually there is at least an attempt to provide some. As it is, I doubt you’re going to convince anyone except your fellow believers.

  53. #53 José
    August 20, 2009

    @toto
    You start from the observation that their behaviour is irrational, and then you immediately conclude that it must necessarily and generally be caused by racism.

    No. He states why he thinks their behavior is irrational (Proposals that the Republicans have made themselves over the last decade are being touted as attempts to kill grandma or take away our freedoms or introduce socialism) and can see the one, huge, glaring difference between Barack Obama and his better received predecessors. He then draws a reasonable conclusion from that.

  54. #54 Russell
    August 20, 2009

    Greg writes:

    These bozos must be called for what they are. Racist is part of it. Stupid is a HUGE part of it.

    Ideology is 100% of it. Blaming stupidity just raises the question of why they are acting stupid, and like the accusation of racism, will fail on the grounds that those involved have all the outward signs of normally distributed intelligence, e.g., they function well in society, many have degrees, some are doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Rush Limbaugh is many things, but he isn’t dumb. So why does he say stupid things?

    They need to be called what they are: ideologues. Dangerous ideologues.

    There is virtually zero coming out of the Republican party.

    The party will not discard its base until there is a political realignment that makes it competitive with a somewhat different coalition of political groups. In the meantime, we have to press the fact that opposing the radical right is the most important political task of our time, one that should unite progressives, liberals, and moderates.

  55. #55 José
    August 20, 2009

    @Russell
    Do you really think these ideologues would be having the same reaction if Obama was a white guy named Skip Johnson? If so, why haven’t they had similar reactions in the past? I don’t remember people accusing Clinton of being a secret Muslim/Nazi/Socialist bent on destroying our country. What’s different now?

  56. #56 Stephanie Z
    August 20, 2009

    Russell, if the observation of racism fails to be taken seriously, it will be because people like you don’t care about the issue enough to point to the readily available, clear-cut examples and hold politicians, media and corporate leaders responsible for embracing them. It will be because you don’t do anything to punish the people who are saying this is an acceptable, and even welcome, part of mainstream political discourse. Whether they do it because they agree with the racism or because they don’t care about the racism is irrelevant, and the same can be said for you.

    If you’re not part of the solution….

  57. #57 Greg Laden
    August 20, 2009

    toto: Post summary: You start from the observation that their behaviour is irrational, and then you immediately conclude that it must necessarily and generally be caused by racism.

    No I don’t. Straw man. I am not making that argument. The argument that these yahoos are racist has been made over the last several days by countless others, and I’ve posted on that For the present purposes, it is simply a given.

  58. #58 CyberLizard
    August 20, 2009

    I read the OP. Then I read all the commentary. I then went back and read the OP again. I don’t see that Greg is just standing up and just shouting, “Y’all are racist!” It seems to me that he is focusing on the fact that the racism is present but is not being addressed.

    To me, this quote really sums it up: “he act of identifying racism…is considered just as bad as the racism itself. It is called “playing the race card.” ” Aside from the most overt examples, i.e. the KKK, the concept of racism, especially institutional racism, is so nuanced as to make it difficult for us to feel comfortable standing up and decrying it. Perhaps it is because it makes us uncomfortable to see our own participation in it, because we have been taught that “racism is bad; racists are evil”. To have to include ourselves in that category would therefore make us “evil”. I don’t know. I still feel somewhat confused and I think that might be part of the reason the mainstream isn’t pointing out the racism that clearly persists. But then I have a hard time with nuance in general; I’m generally so literal that it’s difficult for me to recognise the ways in which racism are being displayed. But even I am able to discern the dog whistle messages being thrown out there lately.

    Another point of potential confusion is the fact that, as pointed out by several commentators, there are a plethora of other factors that come in to play that affect the whole atmosphere. However, just because there are many inputs interacting doesn’t mean that focusing on one of them and pointing it out isn’t valid or effective. Sometimes changing just one variable is enough to end up with a completely different answer.

  59. #59 Russell
    August 20, 2009

    José, the radical right accuses Clinton of everything from serial rape to the secret murder of Vince Foster. Google “Clinton death list” to see right-wing paranoia on display in all its vileness. And yes, Clinton definitely was labelled a “Socialist bent on destroying our country.” Of course. The right hurls that epithet against every successful politician slightly to the left of Genghis Khan. Do I think just as much hate would have been spewed had someone named Skip Johnson or, say, John Kerry, been elected president? Absolutely.

    No, Clinton wasn’t accused of being a secret Muslim. Just as Obama hasn’t been accused of killing Vince Foster. Paranoia always works from bits and pieces of reality: Obama has some Muslim family members and lived a while in Jakarta, while Foster was Clinton’s Deputy White House Counsel.

  60. #60 mediajackal
    August 20, 2009

    Face it: Some of us don’t want to acknowledge the race card is being played — even when it’s in a game of 52-card Pick up. It’s shocking, embarrassing and a little too revelatory of things some of us would rather keep tucked in that dank corner of the basement, thank you very much.

    There are people who are genuinely afraid of Obama, on a gut-level that is irrational to the point of, perhaps, not being curable. There are people who despise Obama only because he is biracial. There are others who despise him for his policies. And there are those who are happily pushing the paranoia because it suits their ideology.

    This is a conversation we should have had last year. But most of us, I think, were wary of being the first to say: “Yup, he’s black, now what does that mean, and let’s rip the bandage off all at once.”

    Cyberlizard is spot-on: Some of us have nuanced ourselves into incoherence, because we don’t want to offend.

    Birthers, deathers, whatever — at their core, they’re bigots. And we have to acknowledge it, even though we’re afraid what that might teach us about ourselves.

  61. #61 Russell
    August 20, 2009

    Stephanie, of course racism is present. But racism is not the illness that characterizes today’s radical right.

    Racism was present also in some of the voting patterns for Clinton during the primary. Does that mean Clinton’s campaign was about racism? Absolutely not. Does it mean the Democrats who supported Clinton were racist? Some, maybe. But not most. It just means that racism is present in the US and will raise its ugly head in a lot of issues.

  62. #62 Russell
    August 20, 2009

    This is nearer the mark, and therefore more incisive:

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1917525,00.html

    But it’s not really nihilism, either. It’s making everything else secondary to ideology.

  63. #63 Stephanie Z
    August 20, 2009

    Shorter Russell: Sure, there’s active racism going on here, but I don’t know why you’re getting worked up over it.

  64. #64 José
    August 20, 2009

    José, the radical right accuses Clinton of everything from serial rape to the secret murder of Vince Foster.

    Yes, But it still wasn’t as bad, and it didn’t leech so far into the mainstream as the current nonsense has.

    Do I think just as much hate would have been spewed had someone named Skip Johnson or, say, John Kerry, been elected president? Absolutely.

    You know racism is present, but you don’t think it adds to the paranoia and vitriol? Yes, there were people who hated Clinton because of his politics, but there are people who feel some inherent level of discomfort or even outright hatred towards Obama because of his race. You honestly think that hasn’t caused more people to hop on board the stupidity wagon?

  65. #65 Dan J
    August 20, 2009

    Just a question: Have you ever asked of the people who say, “I want my country back!” what exactly about this country has changed so much that it’s no longer ‘theirs’?

    The response I’ve received (on the occassion when a response was actually given) usually was along the lines of “It’s that man in the White House!” No policy changes, no legal status changes, no changes in how many wars we happen to be in: simply because of the person who happened to win the Presidential election.

  66. #66 Thomas Krawford
    August 20, 2009

    First, race and racism are metaphors for people who either want power over large groups of people or are afraid of loosing what power they may already have. It is an all too human trait and not at all unique.

    Secondly, about the debate itself. I think we are trying to re invent the wheel here. For one thing everyday health care is not the same thing as catastrophic health care or special condition health care (homeless, uninsured, mentally ill).
    Policy wise, we could greatly reduce overall cost if:
    1) there was a federal law initiating and giving teeth to state or regional health care exchanges who could, by law, negotiate on behalf of their shareholders John and Mary Q Public for equitable and affordable coverage for everyday or routine concerns.
    2)A Federally mandated public option package exclusively for catastrophic disease, disability or injury requiring lengthy hospital stays or extraordinary medical intervention. This package could be made available to the consumer and could thus compel a given insurance company to compete by rewriting their existing classifications of health coverage, and re focus statistical concerns of RISK towards dealing exclusively with situations that don’t happen all the time.
    3) And finally, both by law and appropriation, expand the powers of the existing Department of Health and Human Services, coordinating that expansion of authority with a new health privacy provision targeted towards effectively reducing the ranks of the homeless and the uninsured whle developing more effective local and state initiatives for making sure the mentally ill receive the care they will always need.

    Many of these things already exist. But the sad fact remains is that there are not enough system wide structural initiatives in place to effectively keep the cost of health care down. These kinds of initiatives don’t have to cost a lot money. But they do require some ingenuity and guess what, that’s also very affordable.

    Thanks
    Tom K Ann Arbor

  67. #67 Greg Laden
    August 20, 2009

    Thomas, thanks for the comments. Nice to see some actual policy being discussed!

  68. #68 Dan J
    August 20, 2009

    You’ve got some terrific ideas, Tom, but I sense a big hurdle:

    …and could thus compel a given insurance company to compete by rewriting their existing classifications of health coverage, and re-focus statistical concerns of RISK towards dealing exclusively with situations that don’t happen all the time.

    Thus the health insurance companies will fight tooth and nail (dollar and cent) to defeat even a hint of a public option. They will do anything in their power (as they have shown) to keep making obscene profits from the suffering of other human beings.

    How do we “de-fang” the insurance companies, or at least get a muzzle for them while the debate is made?

  69. #69 other Greg
    August 23, 2009

    Greg Laden @ 46 said, “Why is everyone else silent, except the left wing bloggers, only the most liberal of cable TV hosts, and Barny Frank?”

    TV sources are owned or controlled by not-leftwing not-liberal powerful wealthy people. They are also not-stupid. They did not go to the trouble of gaining control of the propaganda apparatus in order to turn it over to their enemies.

    Americans live in their TVs. Your voice isn’t in there. Your outrage is impotent.