Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be

Responding to my post on his finding political validation at an Earth, Wind & Fire concert, Mike Plaisted wants to know what I find "so funny about peace, love and understanding."

Nothing. I am strongly in favor of all three. But so is every conservative I know - even the dread Charlie Sykes who I have yet to hear, as Mike claims, give a lecture about "racism being understandable and black people getting what they deserve." To the contrary, what underlies his concern - and mine - about street violence is a strong conviction that black people - who are overwhelmingly its victims - don't "deserve it."

In the comments to his initial post on this, Mike had the following to say to me:

Actually, it would have done you all good, just as observers, to see a positive interracial event. It puts the lie to so much that you all hold dear about the "dysfunctional" black community and the impossibility of racial progress and harmony. And yet, these sentiments are scoffed at by the right as naive and worse.

Well, there goes Mike down Rodeo with a shot gun. But I hardly need him to show me "positive interracial events." I've been to quite a few. I attend one most every Sunday at St. Paul's downtown. Heck, if we want to speak strictly, my family gatherings are "positive interracial events" (well, at least most are positive) given that I have a black brother-in-law and nephew and an hispanic sister-in-law. (I used to have an asian sister-in-law too, but they got divorced. Not so positive.)Believe it or not, I've even got African American kids in my classes and I can't help but notice that are decidedly not dysfunctional. They all work hard. They all pass. Some of them even get "A"s.

Why he thinks that I in particular and conservatives in general think racial harmony and progress is impossible is beyond me. While it is certainly true that many conservatives oppose "strong" forms of affirmative action and the expansion of traditional social welfare programs, that is a disagreement about means rather than ends. While many believe that the failure to address cultural dysfunction in certain
parts of the black community is, however well intentioned, a cruel form of tolerance, so do lots of black leaders.

There is nothing funny about peace, love and understanding. But I think it includes recognizing that people who disagree with you are not morally retrograde wing-nuts "without souls."


Terrence Berres said...

"Why he thinks that I in particular and conservatives in general think racial harmony and progress is impossible is beyond me."

William Voegeli suggests there are liberals "who believe—or avail themselves of the political advantages of professing to believe—that the essence of conservatism is and always has been Dixiecrat-ism. This is not a point of antiquarian interest; the clear implication is that everything that conservatism has accomplished and stood for since 1965—Reagan, the tax revolt, law-and-order, deregulation, the fight against affirmative action, the critique of the welfare state...everything—is the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree."

Dad29 said...

Why he thinks that I in particular and conservatives in general think racial harmony and progress is impossible is beyond me

Easier to torch a straw man than a real one, Rick.

Anonymous said...

Mike is typical of the vast majority of americans in finding it very difficult to articulate some complicated things about race and class and settling on perhaps emotionally satisfying but critically inaccurate statements.

Many liberals have a coinventional form of racial discourse and they get upset when other forms are used that follow different rules. Conservatives ought to look how they tend to do this on "class" or what is really economic self-interest. If you want to notice the Sykes type of dogmatic PC conservative style, look how quickly he shuts down and calls foul about "class warfare" when there is the slightest suggestion that farmer bob or citizen dave may not exactly share the same economic self-interests as major corporations and CEOs.

Back to the race thing...

After many years of reading and thinking about it, and having lived in many wildly different places and conditions, I will float a provisional claim here that the "dixiecrat gambit" is both incomplete, overstated, and approximately correct.

What is correct about it? Well let's look instead to what everyone is trying to describe and talk about.

Most of the 20th century saw many American cities have some fundamentally similar situations, Milwaukee included: the growth of a large, concentrated underclass, particularly a black underclass, particularly a "great migration" underclass that entered the twilight/wreckage of industrial cities directly from deep south reconstruction era sharecropping existence. Everyone else with the means ran away from this group, the black middle class included. Certain cultural phenomena and the political tactic of racial solidarity led to the lack of any visible or speakable class stratification in urban black america, and by transactions typified by the likes of Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch, etc. the black underclass came to be equated with being black.

The results and reactions to this are clear enough--they are confused and pathological. Nobody knows what they are talking about when they are talking about race, which is code for "black people."

Conservatives, or at least those in the Milwaukee-area-conservative-discourse, are marked by strategies of avoiding, containing, fearing, restraining, and disciplining the urban black underclass. Few will ever state it this baldly; they feel guilty about it, largely because it does indeed look, sound, and feel like racism. At some point you step back from the fear, anger, frustration, and general obsession with the black underclass and realize that's almost the only context in which black anything exists for you. Even if you have a multiracial family. But many, probably most people, do not.

I'm not disagreeing with you Rick, unless you are implying there is "nothing wrong" with the local discourse on "race." It's a diseased, confused, corrupting tangle of words and ideas on all sides. And this is a bad thing.

Plus, even you have to be shocked/dismayed/upset with the content of the comments Patrick Dorwin has allowed to develop in the past couple years at Badger Blogger. Something changed there. Owen Robinson's blog always was that way at times. It's not racism, but it's incredible anger, and it's always on. And it has nothing to do in the world other than blogging. This is not healthy.

Anonymous said...

I have been to those Shark family reunions. There has never been a riot over race but we have had some really rad food-fights.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Two things.

One, why in the name of Allah or Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster you waste time on something written by such a partisan hack as Plaisted, is beyond me. I could write a software program that would put the words "right wing" and "talk radio" and "Karl Rove" into random sentences and make as much sense as that friggin' clown.

Two, pointless tit-for-tats are the raison d'etre of all of you partisan monkeys. Forever proclaiming what the other side must believe so as to define it as evil vis-a-vis your own beliefs, just so you can feel better about your own brainless ideology.

Liberals don't hate families or white or wealth creation or corporate America or anyone else (well, maybe Plaisted does, but see #1). Conservatives don't hate blacks, or jews, or hispanics, or gays. You all actually want to achieve basically the same things, which are peace and happiness among people of all different kinds. The problem is that most of you are too blinded by your ideology, which causes you to make these idiotic proclamations about the beliefs of the other side.

This blindess to ideology leads to pathetic fights like this, which represent monkeys throwing their own excrement at one another.

Grow up and give it a rest.

Rick Esenberg said...

Liberals don't hate families or white or wealth creation or corporate America or anyone else (well, maybe Plaisted does, but see #1).

Right, they don't. That's why you'll never read that here. The reason that I decided to respond to Mike is to make precisely the point that you are making.

Anonymous said...

For lefties like Mike, a "positive interracial event" is a typically white, liberal doctor helping a typically black, impoverished mother abort her child so he can facilitate the genocide of black babies in America, which constitute over half of all abortions.

Mike Plaisted said...

Anony 6:43 makes some great points and puts them in their essential historical Northern-migration context. Kudos to him/her.

Rick, I think what I did in my post and response is underestimate your tendancy to deny the kind of sickening race-baiting that goes on on a regular basis in the right-wing echo chamber (again, I'm not talking about you in particular, except for the enabling effect of your state of denial). When you listen to Sykes and Belling (which you say you don't) and the dimmer bulb on the radio and catch some of the stuff on right-wing blogs out here, it is obvious that blame-the-victim race-baiting and playing up the worst at the exclusion of the good (the main point of my original post) is part of the template they all sign on to -- sort of a local version of Nixon's southern strategy to peel off otherwise-likely Democratic voters by making Dems look like thug-enablers. I hope to expand on this in a future post.

As for Anony 12:49, well, this is what you get you challenge the right-wing racist status quo: more racism.

Display Name said...

"I could write a software program..." It's been done before. Tell me it's not dead-on.

"Owen Robinson's blog always was that way..." No, really, he recently explained that he's a minority, too, and therefore subject to all sorts of injustice (which I parody here).

As for peace, love and understanding, I'm sure that Sykes and Belling are actually all about the strengthening of the social fabric. (At least the fabric for the first-time-caller-long-time-listener-love-your-show's who'd rather spend a warm summer night with Sykes and Belling instead of EW&F.)

As for why they've seemed to fool some liberals into thinking they use code words to inflame their listeners when something bad happens, hey, they're ultimately just entertainment and all about the "good-natured ribbing.".

It's quite simple. It's not like they're mixing business and politics, which would of course weaken the social fabric... unless it's right-wing business blended with politics, which strengthens the social fabric.

Anonymous said...

So, in Mike's world, opposing genocide is racism. You people have been sick for two centuries. First you uphold slavery, then you pass jim crow laws and oppose the Civil Rights Act, and now you exterminate blacks through abortion.

Pot, meet kettle.

Mike Plaisted said...

I think it is extremely racist and offensive to assume that black women are any less able to make choices about what's going on in their own bodies than women of other backgrounds. This access-to-abortion = genocide notion is ridiculous and beyond the fringe.

Rick Esenberg said...


I do think Anon 6:43 does make some interesting points that I want to address later but the point of having the summer off is to actually do some scholarship so it'll have to wait.

But I did want to respond to your point on Belling & Sykes. I don't listen much to Belling so I'm not going to comment on him. I am not a fan and I suspect there are times when he does cross the line.

I do listen regularly to Sykes and I think your description of him is just wrong. He needs to be entertaining so he gets polemical but, for a general audience talk show, I think the discussion on his show takes place on a remarkably high level.

I listen less regularly to Harris, Wagner and McKenna and I don't think that your description can be applied to them either.

Anonymous said...

More Orwellian-speak.

I find it extremely racist and offensive for the Left's automatic response to out of wedlock births to be abortion. I find it extremely racist and offensive that impoverished women are lied to about alternatives and the life in their womb. I find it extremely racist and offensive that at least as many blacks have been killed through abortion as people killed in the Holocaust.

Maybe you're just feeling guilty about your ideology's century-long support of eugenics.

illusory tenant said...

the Left's automatic response to out of wedlock births to be abortion.

Pregnancies, not births. We on the Left are not quite where we want to be with fourth-trimester abortions yet.

"Three generations of imbeciles are enough." - a beloved Leftist.

Display Name said...

Come now, Jenna hasn't run for office yet.

AnotherTosaVoter said...


I agree, I don't see that kind of rhetoric from you.

But I see a lot of it from your posters.

I agree with you that Sykes is, in general, on a much higher level than Weber, McKenna, or Belling. McKenna is utterly pathetic, especially when she exposes her need for easy answers when she explains that she went from being a hard-core leftist to a hard-core rightwinger.

Belling, while a bombthrower, is funny, especially when talking sports.


Nice. Do you have a liberal version?

Anonymous said...

Here is undeniable proof of the racialistic double-standards of the Metro-Milwaukee Honkey Community (MMHC)--

Imagine if Alan Eisenberg was black. How long ago would he have been in federal prison? He'd be getting a lot of airtime/blogtime at the least as the Sharpton or Cochran of Milwaukee, public enemy #1.

Sykes does occasionally (with some regularity actually, at least when a McGee is in office) dip into the inchoate, politically aimless rage/frustration whose target is so racialized it is tantamount to racism. That many white people that angry about whatever black underclass representative it is that's being served up today...despite the fact that many an old black man is equally and doubly's damn close to racism. And then you have the Sykes protege Robinson which says something about Sykes too.

What if the anger was articulated as betrayal emanating from a self-defined community that has typically overlooked and defended those who violate the social contract in a variety of ways?

When key incidents are pushed to a crisis, the "community" and its enablers often defend ideologies and strategies of revolution, rejection and resistance to the authority and legitimacy of the people, organizations, laws, procedures, and basic assumptions that are government and an ordered society.

I believe it is this that offends the most, and it is a real offense. The militant talk is not "serious" *usually*, but never being sure about this is a key part of the force of threat and menace in the offense.

This is the pattern of every relationship that's gone bad. I don't know how you fix it, but angry repeated articulation of one's grievances only intensifies the divisions and conflicts. At the same time, pretending there is no problem encourages real problems to grow.