Monday, January 29, 2007

This is what a racist looks like

By Heraclitus

Some of you might remember my ridicule of a Townhall "columnist" named Burt Prelutsky, and in particular his assinine speculations on gender essentialism. Well, this time Burt has felt the need to unbossom himself of his hatred of ni**ers. No, seriously. But, as the kids say, wait for it.

Here's the first sentence of his latest masterpiece (it's actually about a week old now, but Burt's like a fart you just can't air out of a room -- thanks to Jill for making sure I smelled it).

Whenever I start thinking about all the damage that’s been done to America by the social engineering Socialists, I have to remind myself that some of my best friends are left-wingers.

Okay, first of all, "social engineering" is a noun, not an adjective. Today's wingnut is so ignorant and stupid he doesn't even know what part of speech his favorite obsessions are, despite constantly clutching at them like an infant at his blanket. And capitalizing "Socialists" means that you're referring to members of a specific political party with the title "Socialist," not to someone who has some loosely socialist or lefty ideas (seriously, Clownhall, hire a fucking copy editor). Who are these "Socialists"? The usual wingnut parade: George Soros, Michael Moore, Ted Kennedy.

The great thing about ridiculing Burt, who resembles nothing so much as a syphilitic Jabba the Hutt, is that most of what he writes is such mindless twaddle that you can just ignore it completely. So, let's skip the general mind-numbing stupidity and jump straight to the egregiously racist stupidity.

The whole question of race is a dicey one. Pity the poor fool who wades into those troubled waters. Well, here goes.

Jabba begins his courageous disquisition on race by alluding to Mr. T. So, at least he's aware of the many and varied contributions Afro-Americans have made to the larger American culture, right? You'd think so, wouldn't you?

If a black person tells the truth -- namely, that in 2007, 99% of black problems are self-inflicted -- he is, like Bill Cosby and Thomas Sowell, dismissed as an Uncle Tom. If a white person tells the truth -- namely, that with a 70% illegitimacy rate, no amount of government hand-outs will do anything but provide the cancer victim with a very expensive band-aid -- he’s condemned as a racist.

Hmmm...Burt's concerned about children being born out of wedlock, eh? So his solution must be better sex education and cheaper and more readily available birth control and abortion, right? In any case, he's against "government hand-outs" (yes, he really did say that), which are somehow being touted as a solution to the breakdown of the nuclear family among blacks. Who exactly is doing said touting, well, I don't know. Probably those "Socialists" we keep hearing so much about.

Let me just interrupt here, real quick like, with a cool breeze of reality courtesy of Amanda Marcotte, on this 70% thing:

This rant from conservatives about black out-of-wedlock births is so common that it’s basically autopilot at this point. There are many assumptions you have to hold and carefully refrain from questioning in order to fall for this line, not the least of which being that there’s a causal relationship between having a baby while not being married and poverty, when it could be correlative or, since she [some other wingnut--you how it is, they all look the same -- H] references race and not class, it might not even be as correlative as she implies.

But now, back to our little look at how badly awry the human mind can go.

When blacks say they wish to have a dialogue with whites, it only means that they want a forum at which to bash whites, while their victims provide a Greek chorus of mea culpas, provide the coffee and Danish, and drop a little something in the collection plate on their way out.

Wow. Already Burt's hit ye olde "blacks are lazy and looking for a hand-out" mark twice. That's impressive, even for some douche writing at Clownhall. But is he just a one-trick Hutt? Nope: blacks are also scary. Whites are their "victims," and if Whitey don't make with the danish and coffee, things could get ugly.

There is such a thing as white prejudice. No doubt about it. But it has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with character, culture and values. What blacks refuse to acknowledge is that whites are intolerant of crime and the creeps who commit it, be they black thugs or white trash. The latter are those lowlifes who form Aryan gangs; tattoo themselves with skulls and swastikas; and produce, distribute and use methamphetamines. I don’t know a single white person who isn’t ashamed to be of the same race as these vicious cretins.

Hmm. Okay, so there is such a thing as white prejudice, but it's only prejudice against bad character, which no white people have, since it's a white prejudice to dislike bad character. But actually, lots of white people have bad character, and other white people hate them. But then hating bad character can't be a distinctively "white" prejudice. In any case, we know all blacks are the same; Burt hasn't distinguished among any of them yet, except Bill Cosby and Thomas Sowell, who must not be black, because they don't act like "blacks" do, according to Burt. Shit, that doesn't make any sense. Um...blacks are lazy and want your money!!!

But who are these "Aryan gangs"? Racism doesn't exist in Burt's world, so what could this mean? Also: the only drug white people use is meth. Interesting.

As a white dude, I have to say, pace Burt, that I've never felt "ashamed to be of the same race as these vicious cretins." Probably because I don't feel much pressure to define myself by my race. Being a member of a majority will do that. But probably also because you'd have to be really fucking stupid to judge a race by its criminal members. I mean, really fucking stupid. Like, Burt Prelutsky stupid.

Speaking of which...

But if a person such as Bill Cosby says he’s ashamed of the promiscuity, drug use and illiteracy, that plague the black underclass, he’s called names. The real shame should be that millions of black kids are fatherless; that their taste in music is for anything that’s crude, lewd and loud;

Yep, no white kids have musical tastes running to the crude and lewd. And, truly, only black people like their music loud (my neighbor will no doubt be surprised to hear this). Actually, didn't the advent of gangsta rap coincide with rap becoming a cross-over phenomenon, popular to masses of would-be whitebred gangstas? Could it be that white kids are lapping up the crudeness and lewdness in "black music" just as eagerly as black kids? Could it be that there's "crude and lewd" music being produced and consumed by white people? Naaah.

that their role models are too often basketball players who make more babies than baskets;

Who, exactly, does this describe? Why would kids look up to crappy basketball players? Or are there popular basketball players who are really cranking out 28.9 kids a night? Well, it doesn't really matter. The point is that black men are sexually voracious and irresponsible. No racist history to this trope, no, sir.

whose language skills are embarrassingly abysmal;

Now, as we've seen, Burt really isn't the person to be criticizing anyone else'e facility with the English language. But, beyond that, let me say that I've been lucky enough to teach at good universities and colleges so far in my career. I've seen bright white kids from good neighborhoods and schools who have trouble writing proper English. Right now, the most obviously privileged student I have is also the one who has the most trouble writing functional sentences; from my elitist point of view, I'd say he's illiterate. And, again, these are the better students in the country. When can we expect columns to start appearing at Townhall about how the vulgarity of white America means their children leave high school unable to write a satisfactory English sentence? And, hell, we've all seen how we rank internationally in science and math. When are we going to start putting the blame where it belongs, on the vulgarity, laziness and ignorance of white America? My guess is "never" (and I'm serious that that's where the blame belongs -- not on whites as whites, but on the general vulgarity and materialism of our society).

and that, although most of the street punks are peddling drugs for roughly the minimum wage, they regard it as a worthier, more manly pursuit than working at a 7/11 or, God forbid, going to church, school or a library.

That's right, folks, all blacks are drug dealers (but not all drug dealers are black -- recall the skinhead meth dealers). And no blacks go to church. Or school. Well, we've all heard those stats about how there are more black men of college age in jail than in college, right? And those must be true, right? Actually, wrong. More like, that's some serious bullshit (please view the YouTube clip on that page).

Most whites in this country are not racist. In their heart, they agree with black comedian Chris Rock when he says, “I love black people, but I hate niggers,” even if they themselves are not allowed to make such an honest declaration.

Yeah, just toss that word right out there, Burt. No reason us white folks should feel at all hesitant about using it. Actually, I'm starting to feel some of that shame at being white we talked about earlier. Funny how that works.

Actually, what most whites are is cowardly. When we see black kids with the top of their baggy pants drooping somewhere south of their butts, annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes, saying “they be” when they mean “they are,” and we pretend that theirs is a different, but equally fine culture as our own, we’re no better than those enablers who give money to drug addicts or booze to alcoholics.

Remember, the only ostensible concern Burt has voiced so far with regard to African Americans is babies born out of wedlock. And I suppose it's possible, after all, that if you think abstinence-only sex-ed works, you might also think that "black kids" drooping their pants causes pregnancy (because, again, no white kids wear their pants like that). And black English, or African American Vernacular English, is actually an amazingly rich and flexible idiom, as anyone not blinded by race hate can see.

But the best part is "annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes." Yo, dipshit, they got this new thing called an iPod. Burt's picture of black people is straight out of an episode of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. I mean, Stitch Jones gave us a more nuanced portrait of the average black man than this. Yesterday I linked to this excellent post by The Unapologetic Mexican (I think he's just unapologetic about being Mexican; I'm sure he's very polite in person). Please, go read that post. Just scroll down to the beginning of the frames, read Nezua's analysis, then scroll to the frames with the Latino gangbangers. These stock racist stereotypes, in our case the lazy but criminal and probably violent black youth with a "boom box," have very real power, and we can see that by the way they're trotted out here, to obediently perform their function of letting everyone know that blacks and only blacks are to blame for all their problems, and no one but Socialists like John Murtha think otherwise. In the post linked above, Nezua shows how ubiquitous, and often subtle and insidious, these racist stereotypes are, and how they can come to populate the mental world of some like the Burtster. The racist tropes he vomits at us have a purchase in our society beyond just the winguts enthusing over his little column like rats over a rotted piece of meat in the comments at Clownhall (and even if they didn't, wingnuts vote, etc.).

Burt puts up the necessary initial pretence of being concerned about the conditions of black people in America. But all of his criticisms are directed at the ways in which they don't conform to the arbitrary norms of mainstream white America -- he doesn't like the music they listen to, the way they dress, the way they talk. Meanwhile, and this is probably the most staggering thing about his column, he completely ignores or abstracts from the actual history of race relations in the US. At the end he dismisses racism by saying that slavery ended a long time ago and the Civil Rights Act was passed forty years ago, but he ignores the fact of racism, institutional and otherwise, as well as the massive fact that blacks were left brutally poor and uneducated after they were emancipated, and nothing was ever done to remedy this fact (unless you're counting the abortive stab at Reconstruction, which was, in any case, a horrendous failure). And, as it just so happens, these facts don't reflect too well on Whitey. Burt probably doesn't mention these things because, like most people calling themselves conservatives today, he's completely ignorant of American history, as he is of just about everything else. But this ignorance doesn't keep him from foghorning his imbecile and malign opinions, any more than wingnuts' total ignorance of the history and even the present-day political reality of the Middle Easy stops them from pontificating, usually with the unhinged vehemence that betrays ignorance (as well as a dysfunctional relationship with reality) on Iraq and related subjects.

The ignorance of history, willful or otherwise, and the attack on a minority group focused solely on the ways in which they are unlike the majority -- that, folks, is what a racist looks like.

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