Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stereotypes all around

One of the better bloggers on the left is Michael J. Mathias.* In a recent post regarding the Fred Dooley's "tweet" forwarding a racially derogatory joke about the stimulus package, he writes the following:

Racially tinged language and jokes are a staple of right-wing talk radio programming like the Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage shows, but individual Republicans and conservative interest groups seem to be increasingly bold in distributing racist attacks, especially through e-mail and social media sites.

Let's put aside the standard talking point about "racist" right wing radio. While Savage is a different story (and has become, like Pat Buchanan, something of an ideological hybrid), this is an old and tired slur. What about all of these bold Republicans and conservatives who are "distributing racist attacks."

It's a huge country and I - or Michael - can probably find multiple examples of just about anything, but he cites four instances other than our local episode. One is a message from an Alaska state e-mail account. Did it come from a "Republican" or conservative?" I don't know and neither does Michael. Another was from a "former College Republican" who was working as an intern for - Michael doesn't say this - a Democrat in the Tennessee legislature. A third was from a person he calls a legislative aide to a Republican but who was actually a career secretary and the fourth was from a guy named Dean Grose who was mayor of Los Alamitos, California - a town of 12,000 people. Is Grose a Republican or conservative? He might be but his biography does not tell us that and the election that he won was nonpartisan.

These jokes are all stupid and in bad taste. They aren't funny. Although the people who tell them may not intend to be making a claim for racial superiority, they can be taken that way and, given our history, they ought not to be told.

But Michael offers pretty weak tea in support of the notion that "conservatives and Republicans" have become "bold" in distributing racist attacks.

As for Fred Dooley, he should be ashamed of himself and apologize (as he has). But I guess I am uncomfortable calling for someone to lose his job. He claims that he was recovering from surgery and associated the stereotypical notions in the joke with the south and not with African Americans. While that isn't the best explanation I've ever heard, this is a guy who has been writing on the internet for a number of years. Shouldn't we judge people by the body of their work rather than one incident?

* I say that Michael is a good blogger, notwithstanding his reference to me as Julaine Appling's "intellectual handmaiden" in 2006. Just so he knows, I never met Julaine Appling until after the November 2006 elections. But he's entitled to poetic license.


3rd Way said...

Please do judge Dooley on his body of work.

He harms your cause more than he helps it. Always has, always will.

Nick said...

Overall, I fully agree with your points here. BTW... Republicans use the same tactic against Democrats when pulling out a few oddball bad comments and trying to apply it to that side as a whole.

Mostly though, I'm getting tired of this "I'm a Conservative and not a Republican" line. If you vote for Republicans, and you support Republicans, then you are a Republican.

John McAdams said...

OK, I found the comment online. I'm from the South myself, so I think I can judge the issue.

It looked to me more like a racial thing than a Southern thing.

Dooley's apology was appropriate.

John Foust said...

As they say in j-school, if your mother says she loves you, check it out. I think Dooley's excuse is weak. When was the operation and what meds was he taking? Were his other posts and tweets similarly under the influence?

Judge his body of work? If you do that at RDW, you'll be banned.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nick,

As a conservative independent, I can't agree.

Sure, I vote most often for Republican. But I've also supported conservative Democrats, like David Clarke.

Bottom line, I support candidates who represent conservative beliefs. I don't care what their respective parties are. And I've consistently resisted pressure to join the Republican Party of Wisconsin, because I reserve the right to vote for Democrats.

Put it this way: Given a choice between a liberal Republican and a conservative Democrat, it's no contest; I'd vote for the Democrat.

Maybe you should reframe your argument thus: "If you ONLY support and vote for Republicans, then you are a Republican." I would be hard-pressed to disagree --