Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Bokononism has its attractions. I have several long posts sitting in the edit folder, awaiting my attendance. But for reasons of schoolwork and scholarly completeness, these will have to wait a little longer.

In the meantime, The Nation has again asked me why I bother reading. The uck starts here. The author, Melissa Harris-Perry, `responds' to `criticisms' here, naming in particular Joan Walsh's response at Salon.

The thesis? White liberal disapproval of Obama is indicative of a racial double-standard. The purported evidence? A relatively higher white disapproval of Obama, as extremely precisely measured against the enormous and extremely appropriate data set of `Bill Clinton':

"These comparisons are neither an attack on the Clinton administration nor an apology for the Obama administration. They are comparisons of two centrist Democratic presidents who faced hostile Republican majorities in the second half of their first terms, forcing a number of political compromises. One president is white. The other is black."

Before bothering with detail-work, let's turn to how Harris-Perry categorized the criticisms:
  1. Prove it!
  2. I have black friends.
  3. Who made you an expert?
Both the original article and the `response' omitted a category of interest, which I will be so bold as to propose: (4) the fucking issues. (And I mean both interpretations of this.) There's little reason to discuss the response point-by-point. The categorization of Walsh's piece under (2) strikes me as deeply cynical and lazy. (3) requires no attention. (1) contains an interesting point: "In a nation with the racial history of the United States I am baffled by the idea that non-racism would be the presumption and that it is racial bias which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt." That's agreeable enough, except when we assume this applies to disparate approval ratings purportedly reflecting differing (vaguely-defined) standards of the (ill-defined and un-polled category of) white liberals. On two data points.

And no, Harris-Perry mentions nothing about the fact that Clinton presided over a boom while Obama has (corruptly) presided over a recessions, and nothing about the effect of the Right's obsession with Clinton's sex life. I leave those to Joan Walsh. On another note: nothing about their records on civil liberties was mentioned, where the continuities between Bush and Obama are inescapable. Despite many promises otherwise. Oh yeah, there's that whole promises thing.

I see no need to build on Walsh with boring details. There's only this, under (3):  "Further, I am grateful to live in a time when white Americans are furious about anyone suggesting that they are racist. I much prefer to live in a country and at a moment where the idea of being racist is distasteful rather than commonplace. In many ways the angry reaction about even the suggestion of racial bias is a kind of racial progress." 

Again, I'm probably not a member of the target audience, due to issues of age and general contempt. That proviso provisioned, I'm entirely comfortable with being told I harbor racist sentiments. Well no doubt! I was raised in a petty, very marshmallow city in East Tennessee.

Although I may have managed to exclude myself from the discussion at this point, I am still quite happy drop hints for the benefit of Harris-Perry: progressive disapproval of Obama might just have something to do with his fucking policies. Are white civil libertarians more deeply racist than other white liberals, or was their early alienation a symptom of something else? Say, Obama's continuation of Bush policies, his escalating of the war against whistle-blowers, and his defense of extra-judicial killings (i.e. murder)? Does neo-Keynesian disapproval of Obama have more to do with his economic policy, or with his race?

Apart from the reaction we all expect when `racist' is tossed around - especially when lazily - might the Left be more upset by the fact that some of Obama's defenders are making his color the issue, instead of the criticisms?

Yet I am told that Obama's reelection will be a litmus test of the racial sentiments of white liberals.

Please, my dear Republican readers, nominate Ron Paul.  I don't really like him.  I live in Tennessee, so my socialist vote does not matter.  But I want to vote for something.

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