“You white people” arguments are racist and unhelpful

I’ve been writing lately about an increasing nastiness in the tenor of the debate on the left.

And not necessarily vis-a-vis the right, but rather, vis-a-vis ourselves.

A lot of people seem to be in permanent attack mode, of late, and there’s a tendency to assume the worst of people we deal with. Not a week goes by that I don’t find a new community I’ve not only allegedly offended, but people that I supposedly viscerally loathe and have always despised. To date, every one has been news to me.

The groups of Americans that I apparently don’t like include women, African-Americans, transgender people, bisexuals, lesbians, minimum wage workers (that was last week, because I said we needed to pay government employees a decent wage to get the good people, so I was “obviously” suggesting that minimum wage worker were “bad” people – seriously), and pets (especially cats, because some of the fun animal videos I post in the evenings don’t genuflect sufficiently to lord-god-feline).

Now, don’t get me wrong, the right does this too, including informing me that I don’t like cancer patients (because I debunked the fake Obamacare “horror stories” on Fox), American servicemembers (because I thought a vet got inappropriately snippy on TV, and in America one does not question the political views of vets), and women (because I refuse to treat Republican women I debate on TV more gently than I treat Republican men). And being gay, I of course “hate” people of faith.

The attacks are parter of a larger “outrage” culture that I’ve written about before.

Today I want to write about one specific “outrage” attack that we’ve seen an increase in lately: making broad generalizations about how bad all white people are.

Suey Park and #CancelColbert

colbert-asian-boycott-ching-chongThe most famous recent protagonist was Suey Park, the young activist who called for Stephen Colbert’s show to be cancelled. Lost in the noise was the fact that Park likes to disparage “white people,” a lot.  And in a manner that comes across as awfully racist.

A few examples. First, during an interview with HuffPostLive’s Josh Zepps, Park informed Zepps that because of his skin color he would be unable to understand her arguments, and more:

SUEY PARK: I feel like it’s incredibly patronizing of you to paint these questions this way, especially as a white man, I don’t expect you to be able to understand what people of color are actually saying with regards to #CancelColbert.

HUFFPO’S JOSH ZEPPS: Suey, being a white man doesn’t prevent me from being able to think, and prevent me from being able to have reasoned perspectives on things. I didn’t give up my right to have an intellectual conversation when I was born.

SUEY PARK: White men definitely feel like they’re entitled to talk over me, they definitely feel like they’re entitled to kind of minimalize my experience. And they definitely feel like they are somehow exempt and so logical as compared to women who are painted as emotional, right?

All white men?  Really?

And here’s Suey Park’s views on “white gays”:

white-gaysx

Some of the worst comments from Park came in a rambling interview she did with Salon last week:

SALON: In that case, do you think that “The Colbert Report” itself is oppressive or just that specific joke or comment was oppressive?

PARK: Neither.

SALON: Neither?

PARK: I’m talking about whiteness at large….

SALON: You’re a fan of the “Colbert Report,” and race-based humor is a common shtick that he does by adopting the right-wing persona. Do you have an opinion on his racial comedy?

PARK: …I always paint my white characters to be singular, to be ignorant, to reverse the gaze onto them instead when they are our subjects, instead of always constantly saying people of color are f*cked and a way to kind of always reinforce our subject’s location in reference to white men as some metaphor. I think it would be a more realistic socially commentary if I were able to joke about the totality of white supremacy, but I don’t think that’s going to happen on national television…

SALON: What is the best way to work with white people, to get them on our side?

PARK: I don’t want them on our side….

SALON: Would it be inflammatory to say that you think white men are sort of the enemy?

PARK: Um. I mean I think they are, and we might as well label it. Whiteness will always be the enemy.

She seems nice.

There’s a lot more in that Salon piece, and elsewhere, but I think you get the idea.

And I wouldn’t be writing this if Park were the exception. But she’s not.  She’s part of a larger movement, or at least school of thought, on the more extreme fringes of the left that finds it appropriate to declare anyone who disagrees with them to be an “ist” or an “ic” (e.g., racist, sexist, misogynist, transphobic, homophobic).  And that’s bad enough.  But it’s this larger “you’re all x, y, and z” that I’m finding particularly disturbing because it comes across as, dare I say it myself, racist.

Several recent commentaries you ought to read

Several of the more interesting think-pieces on this larger phenomenon came recently from Joslyn Stevens, Jon Lovett, Andrea James, and Michelle Goldberg.

Stevens dealt specifically with Suey Park and her history. It’s a must-read for anyone who has any lingering notions of Park’s credibility.

Lovett’s piece, while a bit long (it’s based on a speech he gave), deals with the chilling effect that always-on outrage has on speech.  Lovett touches on the Mozilla/Firefox Prop 8 controversy, and while I might in the end disagree with him on that specific issue, I too raised similar concerns, as I think any of these kind of campaigns has the potential of going too far.

Andrea James deals with “heckler/journalists” who are now inhabiting the LGBT community. Her main criticism is reserved for a writer for the Advocate who, coincidentally, went out of control on me about a week ago as well.

Jones’ piece was motivated by an equally excellent commentary by Calpernia Addams, discussing the same Advocate writer, and the larger problem of self-vitriol in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Michelle Goldberg’s masterpiece

And finally, there’s Michelle Goldberg, who takes a look at what she says is the problem of “online feminism” becoming “toxic.”

Yet even as online feminism has proved itself a real force for change, many of the most avid digital feminists will tell you that it’s become toxic. Indeed, there’s a nascent genre of essays by people who feel emotionally savaged by their involvement in it—not because of sexist trolls, but because of the slashing righteousness of other feminists. On January 3, for example, Katherine Cross, a Puerto Rican trans woman working on a PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote about how often she hesitates to publish articles or blog posts out of fear of inadvertently stepping on an ideological land mine and bringing down the wrath of the online enforcers. “I fear being cast suddenly as one of the ‘bad guys’ for being insufficiently radical, too nuanced or too forgiving, or for simply writing something whose offensive dimensions would be unknown to me at the time of publication,” she wrote.

Here’s a bit more of Goldberg – you really need read the entire piece:

Online, however, intersectionality is overwhelmingly about chastisement and rooting out individual sin. Partly, says Cooper, this comes from academic feminism, steeped as it is in a postmodern culture of critique that emphasizes the power relations embedded in language. “We actually have come to believe that how we talk about things is the best indicator of our politics,” she notes. An elaborate series of norms and rules has evolved out of that belief, generally unknown to the uninitiated, who are nevertheless hammered if they unwittingly violate them. Often, these rules began as useful insights into the way rhetorical power works but, says Cross, “have metamorphosed into something much more rigid and inflexible.” One such rule is a prohibition on what’s called “tone policing.” An insight into the way marginalized people are punished for their anger has turned into an imperative “that you can never question the efficacy of anger, especially when voiced by a person from a marginalized background.”

Similarly, there’s a norm that intention doesn’t matter—indeed, if you offend someone and then try to explain that you were misunderstood, this is seen as compounding the original injury. Again, there’s a significant insight here: people often behave in bigoted ways without meaning to, and their benign intention doesn’t make the prejudice less painful for those subjected to it. However, “that became a rule where you say intentions never matter; there is no added value to understanding the intentions of the speaker,” Cross says.

There are also rules, elaborated by white feminists, on how other white feminists should talk to women of color. For example, after Kendall’s #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag erupted last fall, Sarah Milstein, co-author of a guide to Twitter, published a piece on the Huffington Post titled “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism.” At one point, Milstein argued that if a person of color says something that makes you uncomfortable, “assume your discomfort is telling you something about you, not about the other person.” After Rule No. 3, “Look for ways that you are racist, rather than ways to prove you’re not,” she confesses to her own racial crimes, including being “awkwardly too friendly” toward black people at parties.

All of that is all too familiar.

A response to Goldberg and “liberal white folks”

Goldberg’s commentary prompted a response by Brittney Cooper in Salon that contains a large number of platitudes about “white people,” and especially “white liberals.”

[S]ince 2008, the liberal left has fumbled plays in political games where we began with possession of the ball, first down, on the 50-yard line….

For more than a century, the fate of African-Americans has been the pawn in a dysfunctional national family drama played out by whites on the liberal left and whites on the right.

Yes, whites on the liberal left helped elect Barack Obama. And black and brown folk have now endured six years of a straight-up, all out, go-for-broke temper tantrum on the right. Seeing themselves as the paragons of reason, liberal white folks have largely stood idly by reasoning with their brethren and sistren on the right to play nice, even though it is so clear that the right is not interested in a clean game.

It is this larger political context of white liberal dubiousness that Michelle Goldberg omits when she claims that “white liberal” has become a favorite left-wing epithet.

Huh? “Liberal white folks” have “dubiously” stood idly by, trying to play nice with Republicans?  Who exactly would that be?

The only liberal folks I know who tried to reason with the GOP to get them to play nice was a black man named Barack Obama.  (Don’t get me wrong – I think the President has been doing much better in taking on the GOP for a number of years now, but those first few years were another story.)

Crowd of people, via Shutterstock

Crowd of people, via Shutterstock

As for liberal white folks coddling Republicans, the gays sure as hell didn’t play nice with the Republicans (or anyone for that matter), and neither did the liberal blogosphere – both groups ironically, in this context, often chastised for being mostly “white men.”  Those white liberal men, and women, and a lot of people of color too, have been kicking the Republicans in the balls for the six years of the Obama presidency and more.  So it’s not entirely clear to me, other than elected officials, which liberal white folks have been pandering to Republicans.

Cooper continues:

Anger is a legitimate political emotion. And if your life is marked by injustices big and small each and every day, then rage, too, is a legitimate political emotion. I made the choice, though, to let my rage be generative, productive rage, the kind of rage that emboldens me to build the world I want to see rather than take a sledgehammer to all the things I hate. I stay mad. But there is a method to my madness.

Goldberg dishonestly characterizes this demand to be heard as both censorial and anti-democratic, even though if truth be told, it is the very expansion of the number of voices that has white liberals so shook. Like those on the right, she decries the rise of this new brand of political correctness, which demands that we speak of issues like transgender identity, sexual orientation, and ability with sensitivity and care.

Again with the “white liberals.”

Not to mention, we do in fact already speak a lot about sexual orientation, and I’ve never sensed blowback from “white liberals.” In fact, I’ve been rather surprised by just how supportive straight progressives have been on our issues.  Bloggers Markos Moulitsas (who’s Greek and Latino) and Duncan Black (white) come to mind as two people who have always supported our activism, but there are so many more. If anything, I regularly hear complaints from straight “white liberals” who are ticked off that we’re not including them enough in our advocacy – they’re yearning to help us. I couldn’t ask for better allies.

White liberals, get your sh*t together

Cooper concludes:

If white liberals were playing offense rather than defense here, they might do the serious work of translating some of these concerns into policy solutions that actually improve the lives of people of color, queer people, people with disabilities, cis and trans women and all the intersections among these groups….

Again, gay people have already been helped immensely. There’s more to do, but we’re the last group that should complain that our concerns have been ignored the last six years.  They haven’t been.

Rather than threatening people of color into capitulation, why don’t those on the liberal left see these incursions and schisms as a call to put their big-girl panties on and get their sh*t together? Accusing us of being divisive in left politics is a classic silencing tactic. Unchecked racism and the white liberal sanctimony that makes it possible are divisive. The left got 99 problems, but radicalism ain’t one.

Get their sh*t together. Silencing (aka disagreeing). Unchecked racism. White liberal sanctimony.

Ugh.

This stuff isn’t helpful.  It comes across as racist, and it really needs to stop. It almost sounds as if the goal isn’t to win at all, but rather to self-define as victims, while desperately seeking someone to blame for their own inaction.

A lot of progressives want to help on a lot of issues, and they’re not racist, sexist, misogynist, biphobic, transphobic, cat-haters just because they disagree with you on the finer points of the agenda, or because they don’t know all of your community’s intricately detailed rules for proper behavior.

Perhaps if we stopped treating every ally like an ist or an ic simply because their skin color or gender identity is different from our own, we might all end up a lot happier and a lot more successful in achieving our ultimate goals.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • c684570

    Actually, the results are the same in majority-Black areas, so you are wrong. Black police officers arrest Black people at the same rates. So no.

  • beam

    It’s schtick. Online psuedo-celebrity ‘activists’ always need to push the envelope for attention. Its not about any movement or crusade for equality its just about self-promotion and power.

  • beam

    “The term inflames more than it informs by labeling a poor white ‘privileged’ it becomes a easy target for the opposition.”

    Indeed. As is often mentioned anytime a welfare debate comes up, there are far more whites on welfare than blacks; so, yeah, thats a lot of inflaming.

  • Polterguest

    oh, my, how predictably tiresome!

  • emjayay

    They had to show up at meetings and college seminars.

  • emjayay

    5 days later, but thanks for that Gary.

  • BloggerDave

    Yes, multi-millionaire Kennedys are exactly who poor and working people ought to be looking to for support….

  • cole3244

    if that is your experience with those that call themselves liberal they are as duplicitous as you are, in terms you may understand phony that should be a word you are familiar with.

  • Jester1137

    Yes, multi-millionaire Kennedys are exactly who poor and working people ought to be looking to for salvation.

    That seems reasonable.

    On the other hand, I give them this. Unlike most Liberals today – regardless of ethnicity or gender – I’ve never heard a Kennedy spend their time doing a Rand Paul imitation, blaming the poor for poverty, merely substituting broke rural whites for broke urban African Americans as the scapegoat in the morality tale.

  • Jester1137

    You really ought to spend just a few minutes with people to the Left of Ted Kennedy.

    “A liberal is the guy who leaves the room when a fight starts.” Big Bill Haywood

    “In every political community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects. Ten degrees to the left of center in good times. Ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally. ” Phil Ochs

  • Butch1

    They do not deserve the respect when they at like thugs beating up the citizenry and breaking the law. Many of them have ceased “Serving and Protecting” a long time ago.

  • BloggerDave

    Thanks for the link. Very interesting and honest perspective… Perhaps the term should be shortened to just ‘privilege’ and people can draw the meaning from context…

  • BloggerDave

    Minorities taking a stand can’t realistically expect whites to ‘see their privilege’
    They are seeing it and it’s uncomfortable… Otherwise, they wouldn’t be trying to shut down the conversation by demonizing the term that describes it…

  • BloggerDave

    I doubt the “wealthy light-skinned Latino” with a Masters in Ethnic Studies is pretending anything… More than likely, that person is very aware of the favorable bias in his favor for being wealthy and white-er which further strengthens his resolve… That is also true of the Kennendy’s and they’re white…

  • Badgerite

    Don’t get me wrong. I love Colbert. But let’s face it. She had about as much chance of getting Colbert canceled as I do of ascending to the throne of England. He just took the lemons and made comedic lemonade. As he does so well. I’m saying, the girl, though not a particularly good spokesperson did raise an issue for a group of people who do experience that ‘punched in the gut’ feeling when that phrase is used.
    And though Suzy Park blew it when she had a chance to raise that issue, other people did not. Jessica Prois, in her article, gives a much better defense of Suzy Park then Suzy Park ever could.
    Before you say no, read the article. It is the first up if you google:
    #Cancel Colbert Response Has Basically Amounted to Hate Spewing.
    Then come back at me, if you want.

  • Badgerite

    I don’t think Suzy Park falls into that particular category.
    And I am coming from a place of a relative who is Korean and had issues of looking different, etc, as a child. OK.

  • Tatts

    I never said anything about faking their poverty or any such thing.
    If you read–and understood–my post, that was a comment on the people who are doing the criticizing–pointing the finger at others–rather than doing the real work. It wasn’t about people who don’t join, it was about members who don’t pull their own weight yet blame others for perceived shortcomings.

    Liberty City is the major gay political organization in the city and it is very integrated into the political life of Philadelphia (I probably should have been more clear that it’s a gay political group). It does outreach at all gay events, and in the media. It’s not that people don’t have an opportunity to join. And if they don’t want to, that’s absolutely fine. The problem is the people who carp from the sidelines without putting forth any effort, as though Liberty City had some magical power to get people of color to join.

  • cole3244

    your knowledge of political semantics is lacking, because someone claims to be liberal or is said to be liberal by someone like you who is ignorant to what being liberal means just makes you as much of a fool as your argument.

  • AnthonyLook

    The left is not missing a step in pointing out multiple faults within the Republican Party from Homophobic Bigotry to Fascist Theocratic fake Christian Extremism, as well as a constant beating of the drum of pointing out the daily examples that Republicans provide of their racism ( we don’t even have to try to search, Republicans and their racists missteps are constant on a daily basis). There is not hesitancy from the Left to address the Republican Racist cancer in America. Republican racists and their tea party birther racist minions are a well understood fact among American voters. No amount of justification, denial, distortion, lies, or projecting of those ills- will work. The Left is 69% white, 21% African American, and 10% latino/other. The War on Women is but one pestilence that the Republicans have wrought and as Americans whether White, African American, Latin or otherwise, we on the left are not deterred by your lies, distortions or faulty attempts havoc between us. You have nothing to fear, but the fear of our unity against the Republicans. We will stop you racist, we will not give up America to the likes of traitorous racists.

  • Jester1137

    Never try to teach a Boomer anything. It wastes your time and annoys the Boomer.

    Of course. You have nothing to learn from anyone.

    Liberals are the people who went along with Red Baiting, the people who supported the war on Vietnam right up until it was Nixons, the people who keep telling the poor we ought to be grateful for token efforts at tiny increases to the minimum wage.

  • Jester1137

    You are actually whiter than Glenn Beck.

    I didn’t know it was possible.

  • Jester1137

    Hey, ed?

    You don’t have to shower after work, do you?

  • Jester1137

    The assumption that everyone is responsible for everyone else’s baggage, and no one needs to take responsibility for their own, prevents any useful discussion from ever taking place.

    Every one of us has a duty to examine our emotional responses, determine if they’re appropriate, and display some self-discipline in how we interact with others.

    We also have a duty to entertain the possibility that a person who seems to be a completely fraudulent attention seeker who craves drama might just be a completely fraudulent attention seeker who craves drama.

    People like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck ect. who manufacture utterly baseless claims of “racism” to advance their own agenda are not a uniquely white phenomena.

  • edtastic

    You’re basically talking about feminism which has no natural enemies because men will do just about anything for women. Feminists are mostly white women which means a whole lot of theory and very little lived oppression. The same can’t be said for race. Whites can up and decide they don’t care about racism anymore because they won’t be it’s victims of it and it’s generally not in their self interest to care much about it. These other races are not members of their families. They usually don’t live in their communities and most whites don’t even have to work with but a handful of them. Notice where the extremism is coming from on the left and it’s not from those dealing in race, it’s those dealing in gender.

  • edtastic

    Minorities are dependent on whites for protection and support so I don’t think this fear of them being anti white is about much more than whites deciding how much white supremacy will be imposed as a price for that support. If minorities could no longer speak ill of whites they couldn’t respond to whites organizing against them.

    In fact “white privilege” made things worse and it came from feminism that’s a white dominated movement, not minorities from the Civil Rights tradition. The term inflames more than it informs by labeling a poor white ‘privileged’ it becomes a easy target for the opposition. Better we stick to discussing collective white power and what’s done with it where common sense still applies instead of this individualized treatment of our collective issues rooted in a effort to make the personal political in the feminist tradition. Those women weren’t up against a unfriendly mob, they were fighting with men who already loved them. Minorities taking a stand can’t realistically expect whites to ‘see their privilege’.

  • edtastic

    Whites made not being white into a problem and not the other way around. Our political white is 90% white and that’s not a coincidence. Whiteness being the enemy as you put it is about whites being annoyed by the idea of being held accountable for racial antipathy as a group after practicing white supremacy as a group for hundreds of years. The funny thing is minorities rely on whites to fight other whites since they have neither the power nor the numbers to do so themselves.

    You’d rather erase race and call it a day but if you are the group being threatened that’s not going work out for you. Obama can’t erase his race nor would racists whites let him.

    “Condemning an entire race for the actions of a portion is the same poison drawn from the same source.”

    We are talking about majority versus minority politics not some random configuration where all things end up being just about equal. One group has the power and the numbers and the others are at their mercy. Telling the weaker party they must shut up to appease the more powerful ones is about a majority using their power to subdue the weaker even though the weaker emerged from a place of oppression just 50 years earlier. Their escape from persecution was paved with massive guilt trip that ceases to be effective with the law being one of the few impediment to renewed subjugation in a country that sees fit to have the largest prison population on the planet consisting of mostly ethnic minorities.

    Let’s not pretend anger towards blacks by whites isn’t real in this country and I don’t pretend to know exactly why it’s so intense. Perhaps proud people would rather erase those their ancestors abused than live with them.

  • edtastic

    “Some people create an us-vs.-them world in their own minds and are more comfortable finding fault than participating. Professional victims.”

    My guess is you people don’t have a lot of black people in your social circles hence the dearth of black people in your group. Are you implying that people of color in Philly are faking their poverty? Is this their victim gig? I say that because aren’t viewing the disadvantaged and unconnected as people who need help despite being in the party that supposed to be trying to help them. They deliver their votes and you should at least be able to reach out their communities to get them into your circle. Maybe if you had a few of the right people who had solidly diverse social circles they could make something happen but instead, it’s ‘you people suck’. I seen that too much and it’s a cop out.

  • edtastic

    The left has thrown all it’s capital into manufacturing a war on women because defending race would put white votes at risk. The escalating rhetoric came from a failed effort at white male bashing Republicans into anti abandoning abortion policies that Republican women voted for in the first place. It was the politics of manufactured outrage meant to lure female voters not to address any real issues by persuading anyone who didn’t already agree with feminist views on abortion.

    At the same time issues of race and racial attacks on the president were brushed aside and the president himself lived by a policy of capitulation on race from the beer summit to trashing black fathers on fathers day. Where outrage was needed none was found. Apparently open contempt for black just became okay because Obama got elected. We can see how proudly Newt went after blacks on welfare in the 2012 Presidential Primary debates. The response wasn’t outrage, just some fact checking.

  • edtastic

    “This stuff isn’t helpful. It comes across as racist, and it really needs to stop.”

    I think it’s downright dangerous to go around calling black people racists for calling out whites being racists or white inaction on racism. I just left a discussion open discussion white privilege where blacks were threatened by many people with ‘race wars’ or in truth genocide if they didn’t shut up as if they were even capable of dominating the conversation as a small minority that only get’s to be heard in the mainstream when whites let them. This denial around white privilege and what it entails at even the most superficial level of population demographics in a democracy seemed to fly over peoples heads as they came out with full-throated defenses starting with calling minorities racists, stating why black people suck or how blacks in fact have it better than whites. Just below the surface was simmering anger from people who wanted to hate so bad and just needed excuse to justify it.

    “It almost sounds as if the goal isn’t to win at all, but rather to self-define as victims, while desperately seeking someone to blame for their own inaction.”

    Yes, how unreasonable for blacks to blame whites for whites sitting back while racism the likes of which I’ve never seen reemerges on the scene right beneath our noses and we as liberals say nothing and do nothing about it. Blacks have some distance from these things because they aren’t hearing what I’m sure whites hear from other whites in their own communities. I only know how deep white rage against blacks go from visiting forums where right wingers speak freely. I’ve seen on articles that just happen to have a black person involved.hundreds of racist comments getting nothing but support readers. Nearly every comment was to say something awful about black people.

    It would seem America has decided a black president makes racism okay. I have seen no other group of any kind subjected to this kind of attack through general negative sentiment with Muslims after 9/11 being the exception. Even that tragic turn towards hate should have been fought harder by the left. We are really losing our soul as a party and I would blame this nonsense chasing of outrage by the white liberal as being apart of the problem because we’ve lost site of the big issues and the big threats to peoples welfare and safety in this country. Social justice is practically a form of entertainment not unlike watching the DailyShow. People set out to make clever one liners rather than challenge people openly threatening over throw of the government because we have a black president.

    I could go on but to say the least I don’t think you have a clue what kind of hate is brewing out there for racial minorities in the white community. We are a long way past the civil rights era and the lessons the baby boomers learned about race did not translate into the next generation. If we’re not careful we will find history repeating itself quite a bit and the fuel for the fire is already baked into the statistics. When social justice has lost it’s legitimacy it won’t be whites in jeopardy but minorities who have always relied on it’s moral authority as a defense and I’ve watched that social capital squandered on utter nonsense because young educated liberal whites began telling everyone they were true victims of oppression and in so doing reducing ever threatened minorities to just another intersection of oppression.

    We need to find our soul as liberals again because this crap ain’t worth a damn.

  • The Real Peterman

    Good one, John.

  • pjbrqoeimber[omipbe

    Suey Park is a fucking pig! She should go back to Korea and suck Kim Jong Ching-Chong Ding-Dong, or whatever he’s called.

  • cole3244

    get your facts straight, progressives are cowards and are in no way to the left of liberals or anyone that is legitimately left of center.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    In a way I understand how they feel. I get a small dose of that every time a straight person tells me that I can’t be fired or not hired for being gay because “that’s discrimination”. I explain to them that in 31 states it’s still legal to discriminate against gay people. Most of the time I don’t think they actually believe me. But I keep doing it because I know they don’t know.

    The people who are giving you are hard time are not representative of trans people as a whole. Most people (of any kind) don’t want to make allies into enemies just to have somewhere to vent their anger.

  • Badgerite

    Yes, I know. But people did ‘attach’ things to it. And some of it came out in responses to Suzy Park which were highly racist. Now she maybe brought this on herself by being so utterly lame at defending her position once the media light shown on her. But still, I’m just saying that there is a cogent defense to be made of her emotional reaction to his use of that phrase and it is made very well by Jessica Prois in her article.
    Please read it. And THEN tell me if you don’t agree. It is easy to find.
    Just google it.

  • Indigo

    Midwesterner! Yes! That’s my true ethnicity!

  • AnthonyLook

    Frustration leads the Left to the over the top fringe reactions and comments. The tinge of the Left’s expressions of whatever truth there definitely is–evolves into a visceral escalation of anger, making it suspect; unlike the stain of lies that the Right premeditates and coordinates. The equivalency argument is lacking.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    That’s really sort of humorous, given my own family background on my father’s side — immigrant Lithuanian grandparents (Grandma never did establish a firm grasp of English), and neither my father nor any of his siblings married a Lithuanian.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    Similar situation — I’ve had to suffer the automatic assumption of “privilege” from people who knew nothing about me, simply because I am a white, cis-gender, middle-aged male. One blogger even referred me to an article that would “explain” it to me — written by a white, upper-middle class straight woman, whose experience in no way resembled my own. I try not to make assumptions, knowing very well how they backfire. (My father was in the administration of the district where I went to grade school. Free ride? No, higher expectations.)

    GarySFBN’s comments I took to be very valuable as a semiotic underpinning, but I’d like to note a couple of other things: We/Them is a basic human system of categorization, from far enough back in our prehistory that it might as well be hard-wired. Some of us are better able to expand our definition of “We” than others; those who can’t wind up as the extreme elements in today’s politics. It follows that we categorize things — we categorize everything: that’s how we
    organize information and that’s how we remember specific bits, by the
    associations and groupings we set up. And, we talk in generalities, based on those categories — it’s almost necessary if you’re talking about anything but the minutiae of daily life. The trap is in forgetting that generalities are shorthand — they can’t describe all aspects of anything. If you’re going to get anything from a discussion, you have to take that into account and cut the speaker some slack — otherwise, you wind up as Suey Park.

    I can certainly credit the idea that some if not all of the snipers are basically working out their own issues — everyone has an agenda, even if as often as not it’s unconscious. And some of us, sadly, have an authoritarian streak, no matter where on the political spectrum we land. I never saw that much difference between the far right and the far left — it’s the same psychology.

    A final note, perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned from my parents: people are people; there are some you get along with, and some you don’t. There’s no point in demanding that the ones you don’t agree with adhere to your standards, which is really, I think, the focus of John’s post — the “politically correct” rules of discourse, which are largely a secret for the initiated — I tend to just avoid those people and stick with the ones I do get along with.

  • goulo

    I had a white male coworker with a wife whose father was Mexican and whose mother was Chinese; when she first started dating him, they were upset and said “Why can’t you date your own kind?”, with apparently no sense of self-awareness or irony… She was like “What, I’m supposed to find another half-Mexican/half-Chinese person?” :)

    (Luckily it all worked out in the end and when they got to know my coworker, they liked him.)

  • goulo

    Indeed. My non-US S.O. finds it very strange (well, so do I) that in primarily US online discussion forums if someone mentions they are/were in the military, very often several people reply “Thank you for your service” almost ritually. (And that in real life people often say “Thank you for your service” to someone in a military uniform.)

    It’s not only strange, but sad that no one ever says “Thank you for your service” to e.g. someone in a forum who mentions that they are a teacher, or a doctor, who practically speaking have truly helped and served far more people than service like, e.g., invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • goulo

    Sometimes it’s intended as an insult or automatic dismissal of a white person’s argument or feelings, but I agree with BloggerDave that it’s also often used in good faith as an observation about social power imbalances, without intending to blame or insult white people. (Same with male privilege, straight privilege, able-bodied privilege, etc.) I.e. any moderately aware white person realizes they enjoy various advantages in US society simply by virtue of being white, regardless of whether they are a racist jerk or a very socially aware active compassionate person.

    At least many discussions I’ve seen about privilege, it’s used in this manner of simply acknowledging a pretty obvious fact about our society without blaming or dismissing someone for being white. (E.g. see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/8492/on-privilege-part-one-what-it-is-and-why-you-have )

    But I do notice that people not used to such discussions and entering into them do tend to assume at first that “privilege” is being used as an insult (perhaps due to having experienced it as such in some other context.)

  • Jester1137

    What Colbert said was

    ‘Ching Chong Ding Dong is just as racist as ‘Redskin’, and vice versa’

    Everything else is what other people attached to what Colbert said.

  • Jester1137

    Actually, they were doing it so people/cities would try to stop them.

    So they could sue for violations of their civil rights.

    Because that’s how they funded their cult.

  • Jester1137

    Some people watch Eddie Murphies famous “White Like Me” short and don’t understand that it’s cutting both ways.

  • Jester1137

    An Australian “Aborigine”/Swedish friend and I signed up for a job program together. He put down “other” in the EOPS part.

    The lady reviewing our applications in the other room started ranting about “pretty mixed brothers who think they’re too good to be Black”.

  • Jester1137

    ” within every interaction between two people, there is one person that has more power and privilege”

    My (white) family had an African American woman as a case worker for a few months. She was extremely nasty and constantly made remarks about “you people” and said things like “You know, if someone would just clean up all the TRASH this would be nice area” in a tone that made her intent clear as could be.

    Turned out, she was also the case worker for an African American friend at school. She treated his family exactly the same way. She hated poor people. As far as we could tell, she took the job for the sole purpose of crapping on poor people. His family thought she was like that because they were Muslim.

    When you’re at the mercy of an abusive sadist and casting about for “why are they treating me this way”, a difference in ethnicity, gender, religion ect. is an easy thread to grab.

  • Jester1137

    On the one hand, white privilege is real. Every white kid who grew up poor in a multi-ethnic area knows first hand that the black and latino kids who were just as broke were more likely to get hauled to juvie over BS that white kids just got yelled at by cops for, and that those black and brown friends were also more likely to get a few days detainment instead of just probation if they got hauled in.

    But “White Privilege” has become a way for wealthy light-skinned Latino’s who’s parents paid for their masters degree in ethnic studies to pretend they’re somehow objectively oppressed when compared to a white kid from a trailer park in coal country, or the South Side.

  • Jester1137

    Liberal became a dirty word when Liberals supported a war on Vietnam and a slow-walk approach to social and economic justice.

    People don’t call themselves “Progressives” to distance themselves from Liberals in order to appeal to the right. People call themselves “Progressives” to stake out a space to the Left of people like Sen. Boxer and Franken.

  • Jester1137

    Unchecked in-group out-group crap dressed up as politics.

    That’s all it really is.

  • FDRliberal

    Fringe leftists like Suey Park are indeed just as dopey as the fringers on the right. The difference is the lefty fringers have way less power.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Aye… and we can either choose to embrace the past and hang on to our pain, or work hard to grow beyond it, acknowledging and respecting what went before and how unfair it was, but refusing to see the whole world through the lens of suffering and reflexive lashing out.

    My pain explains how I got to where I am now, and I learned a great deal from it. It made me stronger, but I no longer want to allow it to define me or my limits.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I agree. Those who are going to be ‘triggered’ easily are probably not best suited to lead.

  • Tatts

    I heard this a lot when I was active in Liberty City Democrats in Philly. Lots of “we need more people of color”, “why don’t you get more people of color to join?”…

    The board was racially and sexually balanced by the bylaws–50/50/50/50, but when it came time to do the work–outreach, phoning, leafleting, get-out-the-vote calls, it was almost entirely white guys doing the work (and a few white women).

    Finally, at one membership meeting this came up for the umpteenth time (particularly supported by a white female lawyer in the group). I asked who thought that this was an important issue; virtually all hands went up. Then I asked how many people had ever brought a person of color to a meeting; all hands went down. There is a subset of the community that is quick to point fingers, but slow to take responsibility.

    Liberty City is a powerful force in Philly politics, and I said many times that in a diverse city like ours, when we are doing campaigning, we’d get better acceptance if the people that we approached saw and heard people like themselves–that they could relate to. But you can’t force people to join and you can’t force the ones who do join to work.

    Some people create an us-vs.-them world in their own minds and are more comfortable finding fault than participating. Professional victims.

  • 4th Turning

    More reason to up the volume on that Mozart piece I’m listening to.
    Right now it’s hard to see any consensus forming out of these many
    and varied comments. But you’re onto something real basic here as a
    prelude to difficulties ahead and the quality of compromise needed to deal
    with them. The word that keeps coming to mind is arsonist thinking about
    the diabolical fascination with tearing down these guys reveal about
    themselves.

  • pappyvet

    When I came home from Vietnam , someone had thrown a bag of dog crap at my parent’s picture window so hard that it broke the window. He was apparently aiming for the service star my Mom had hanging in the window. It was the same service star she had hung from the window of their small apartment when Dad was in the Army Air Corp during W.W. 2. Recently I had some girl very taken with her “intelligence” tell me that if I was drafted it was ok but if I volunteered , I still had blood on my hands. Idolatry? For some perhaps. But a nightmare for others.

  • 2karmanot

    All of us have scars that run soul-deep. We grow. We persevere. We face fear and win some and lose some. I have no patience with professional whiny victims. Age and experience is the great equalizer, that’s why confront, tell our stories and give no inch to damage—-that is healing.

  • 2karmanot

    “Liberals are racist and intolerant.” Easy to do Free when experiencing trolls like ya’ll.

  • BloggerDave

    I guess it can be used as an epithet so it depends on who and how they’re saying it (like ‘queer’ for example) but in general, it identifies the issue rather well for those people who are serious about the discussion and are not interested in scoring cheap points. To me the phrase means that just as the United States, in general, defaults to “straight,” it also defaults to “white.” That has been true in the media (especially commercials), television, and movies up until the last 5 years or so when people of color (and not just black people) were included as part of the normalcy of American life. Equality begins there for everyone.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’ve had this conversation with a number of trans activists online and repeatedly found the same thing Goldberg explains above. There was no interest in doing education, and I was told that it’s offensive to suggest that it’s their job to educate people about them, and that if you don’t know what they consider basic info and rules about trans people then you’re the problem. It was completely inimical to the way I, and we, have succeeded on gay advocacy. And that’s part of the reason I write these stories: people who think that way are hurting those movements. No one wins that way.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    It may simply be a reflection of the internet. The tool didn’t exist before so that particular crowd that guys into these theories didn’t have a way to be heard. Now they do. They may have been there all along. But as more people get online, the cacophony grows.

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    Thanks for all the positive responses. I’m replying to me because I don’t know how else to continue this
    conversation. And I want to be clear – I’m just rambling about racism,
    communication styles, defense mechanisms, how we listen, and a few other
    topics that all may touch on John’s post. Thanks John for provoking me to gel these thoughts.

    First, there are a
    group of people who have been victimized by those who are privileged but
    they unfairly leverage that victimization: I’ve seen it called “I’m a
    victim so I can’t be accountable” syndrome and I think you get the idea. That is
    the less annoying, less toxic version. A more extreme version would be
    the lashing-out at anyone who may have privilege. This behavior may or
    may not be intentional and that is why continuing the conversation is
    important.

    For those of us who were raised in ethnic,
    multi-lingual homes (my childhood home was multi-generational,
    multi-cultural, multi-lingual (Spanish, Greek, Turkish and a little
    French), communication can be a bit different. Because we didn’t always
    understand the words that someone was saying, the “intent” of the speaker
    was very important, and something that we all learned to perceive. I
    think that this is common in many ethnic households and nobody has
    really researched it much. So intention becomes so important that trumps the actual words. I find that people like us tend to find some
    music more evocative than musical lyrics – we are operating in the
    realm of ‘feelings’ as a filter for communication. Sometimes we appear
    ‘emotional’ but most of us have learned to keep it under control. But
    what happens when the intention of the speaker is not known or if we
    perceive that the speakers intention is not good, is that it can trigger a
    defense mechanism, and that can have some of us retreating to that
    ‘worst experience’ defenses. I’m not sure if Suey grew up with
    immigrants in her home, but that is one reason that I included this
    concept in my response.

    Back to my childhood, I had 4
    grandparents, 1 from England, 1 from Denmark, 1 from Greece and 1 from
    Turkey. My Turkish grandfather was very dark-skinned. He and my Greek
    grandmother (I know) always live with us in Orange County, California.
    Because we had non-English speakers in the home and people who didn’t
    look white, we were more or less considered ‘Communists’ or something
    and mostly shunned us in our very white neighborhood. It did not matter at
    all to us because the house was always full of a million people and a
    lot of fun. But going out shopping etc, white people were horrible to my
    grandparents and to anyone who did not speak English well or looked
    like us. I’m blond and blue-eyed, so I never experienced this when I
    was alone (there’s that privilege). I’m sure that this some of this bad treatment of non-whites, non-English speakers continues to this day. I know a little Cantonese, enough to know that in Chinatown, I and many whites are referred to ‘white devils’ and this too is wrong. But in the interaction/privilege equation, whites in the US have the power, which doesn’t excuse being called a white devil, but it is important to know if the speaker has been a victim, etc.

    To this day, people of
    color, immigrants from some countries, women, gays and some other groups
    are often treated poorly. And it’s not like we just shake-off these
    bad experiences. We may be very good at ‘moving on’ but there’s that
    place – the ‘worst experience’ always waiting for us, unless we
    figure-out what’s going on.

    Another aspect regarding language
    that may help us understand why people are so upset with Colbert is
    shame. My immigrant grandparents were ashamed that they didn’t speak
    English. And guess what? They passed that shame to me when I was maybe
    4 or 5 and I became ashamed of them for not speaking English. My
    father figured this out and ‘corrected’ the situation which was good.
    But this is VERY COMMON among the children of immigrants. And frankly
    shame is one of the most powerful and destructive feelings we can
    experience. And upping the impact of shame, I believe that in many Asian
    cultures, shame is more toxic than in most of the rest of the world.

    So
    here we have Colbert appearing to make fun of the way Asians talk (yes I
    know – that isn’t what he was doing) which has Asians retreating to
    their ‘worst experience’, provoking years of shame that has probably
    never been self-acknowledged, and since Colbert’s intention wasn’t
    clear, those defense mechanisms went full-throttle.

    OK, I drifted into the content of what John wrote and I’m not addressing the main issue. More on that later.

    But this has been a long and wonderful path of learning for me. Growing up in as I did, seeing first hand prejudices, having a father who was just a regular guy but who couldn’t handle injustice, working in downtown Oakland for 25 years, learning about institutional racism, taking a gazillion classes on communication, storytelling, health, racism has lead me to believe that while most of our differences have complex underpinnings, they have pretty easy solutions.

    Here’s a video I did in one of the storytelling classes. The objective was to tell a story in 250 words or less. It tells a story about my father, and how I inherited so much of what I am writing about.

    http://youtu.be/DnmwqXnqmXw

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh that was my underlying suspicion on this issue, and that issue, all along. But “abuse-victim” is not an effective way to run a political movement.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I think your comments are quite interesting so please do :-)

  • pappyvet

    Neither whiteness nor blackness nor gayness or any other “ness” is the enemy.
    Stupidity and prejudice carried by any vessel is the enemy. Any group who rightly wish to be accepted as part of the Human family must acknowledge that they are no better or worse than anyone else.
    The bad always accompanies the good in any group of people. Combating hatred and ignorance is the good fight. Condemning an entire race for the actions of a portion is the same poison drawn from the same source.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’ve been on the receiving end of that phrase when it’s usually used as a kind of epithet, and in a way to debunk any argument I make by suggesting that the fact that I’m white means I’m wrong. If folks think that phrase somehow doesnt sound anti-white or imbued with animus, I think they’re making a mistake.

  • 4th Turning

    There you go again… The correct term is ginger. Once the mark of
    something-I don’t know what-fiery temper-in my family, too. But find it
    very svelte myself. (Don’t make me start resorting to all caps!!!)

  • 4th Turning

    What I saw first-hand in my work observing those coming of age in the 80′s
    (dawn of the infamous latchkey era) was an absence of even the tiniest particle of innocence. I don’t think any studies have ever been done to measure the shocking/indelible impressions made on 12 and 13 yr. olds by the pervasive fear and panic caused by the AIDS plague and its sorry handling by adult authority figures kids have zero choice but to trust. Ryan White was their link. One of my earlier students was a hemophiliac. Never heard for sure, but sadly suspect he didn’t get a pass either.
    I don’t know if I dare trust my limited independent survey but the internet ie. the few youtube channels I’ve chanced upon seem to reveal an innocence-if not paradise-regained as floodgates opened full-on for the sharing of coming out stories almost simultaneously worldwide. It suggests all those dark years of secrets and fear had a more chilling, emotionally crippling effect than appearances let on at the time. Our normal-even a high functioning normal-was anything but. The millennials have a new kind of happiness aura about them which makes even the fraught ordeals that lay ahead susceptible to their inner strength/courage-(I’m hoping anyway).

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    I pounce, but usually in the face of any kind of injustice, regardless if it was directed at me or not. 90% of the time, I RELY upon your anger in the political arena, but I call it passion. When something bugs you, you are an unrelenting advocate and you do a GREAT job.

    I’m writing more comments in reply to my original post that may speak to this.

  • cole3244

    this is complicated for some but not for me, too me its really quite simple the left have been ostracized for decades especially since reagan was in office and even obama has little respect for the left imo.

    liberal has become a dirty word and the left have been intimidated into calling themselves progressive for fear of being thought of as of the liberal persuasion and this has kept them from advancing a truly liberal agenda.

    as long as the left is timid this nation will continue to trend right and our rights will be eroded even more than they are now, the center has been moved so far to the right that we are now fighting to just keep fascism at bay and protect the right to vote.

    if the left is eliminated as a force in politics in america any argument is over and we will be something other than a democracy, that day is right around the corner if not already reached.

    rather than defending the left those that believe in liberal thought need to be more aggressive before no one in america has the right to object or even think about defending the rights of the individual in america, our only hope is for the left to make a comeback and stop what seems inevitable too me as our rights are taken away drip by drip on the march to a plutocracy if not worse.

  • BloggerDave

    I think the best new expression to come out of the race debate has been “white privilege.” It had been difficult for people of color to express their frustrations without sounding anti-white until this polite, and yet pointed, expression was coined…

  • Dale Warner

    It is different. We see ourselves as the beginnings of an ADL for the diverse white Americans. But kindly pick one thing, and I’ll give it some context. It took our organization on the West Coast years to think it through and then to develop ways of using the information. We link analysis & information to action steps.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    In further thought, it’s occurred to me that Gary’s observation might also be at the root of some of your unfortunate experiences with members of the Trans* community. A lot of them have almost nothing but negative experiences and scars that probably run soul-deep.

    Not saying that justifies attacking would-be allies…but it could go a long way towards explaining the knee-jerk impulse toward being offended at every slightest thing.

    Or to put it another way, if all someone has ever experienced is abuse, an upraised hand is seen always as readying to strike, rather than an offer of comfort and reassurance. Which is a shame, because it cuts off so many chances for things to become better.

  • kuvasz

    There is only one real difference in this land; CLASS.

    “You think this man is the enemy? Huh? This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain’t a union, it’s a goddam club! They got you fightin’ white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain’t but two sides in this world – them that work and them that don’t. You work, they don’t. That’s all you got to know about the enemy.”

    Joe Kenehan, Matewan

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m not sure I understand much of that.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I concur with your friend. It is creepy and quite disturbing.

    On a side note: Given the automatic deference, is it any surprise our police are trying to turn themselves into the equivalent of domestic military forces?

  • Dale Warner

    There is another way to look at this, but it is designed explicitly for the diverse white Americans. As one of them, I understand the limits on discussion about those from a different demographic affinity group. We don’t like “offense” as a litmus test because it is subjective and silencing.
    We take as our test an examination of the speaker when he or she chooses to name, label, define, and describe the diverse white Americans to see if his or her speech reveals a supremacist intention or an effort to steal our right of naming ourselves…the latter of which all the members of all groups possess as a right. Then we look to see if the speaker has a record of hate and bigotry. If so, we attackback at that speaker, but never his or her demographic affinity group. And we don’t use racism because a whole lot of people are now immune to that siren song.
    This stuff has been going on a long while. Back in the very early Sixties, Michigan State University discovered that there were two sets of barbers in East Lansing and didn’t bother to ask either the diverse African Americans or the diverse European Americans whether this was a social plus or a social minus. It was the first panic by the white left I saw, and it was wild. It was their way or the highway. I have seen no diminution in the tone and self-righteous nature of the public discourse since then. It seems to me that the high tone adopted by those identifying violations of the social code is at about the same level as back then, six decades ago.
    In discussing all this, it is important to realize that the locus of white left-wing panic has shifted from sex things (early births, birth control, pornography, etc.) to racial things with side orders of developmental issues, rights of women, recognition of various sexual orientations, etc. In a way, it is still mostly all about sex, just flipped on its head.
    But then, it is kind of fun to do what we call a “Bea Arthur,” namely to be ready at a moment’s notice to express an attackback at the enraged ones. We’ve been doing it since the late eighties, and we get why it is fun…it works to silence the defamer. See us at resistingdefamation dot org

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I agree on that front. But sometimes, as in the quotes above, there seems almost a presumption on some people’s part that we hold meetings of the White Club where we plan how we’re going to screw over minorities over the next week. And, as I mentioned in response to your excellent comment above, usually the “privilege” notion is dropped like a bomb, and a weapon, in the conversation in an attempt to shut you down. You didn’t do it, but you’re rare :)

    Also, as a gay man, I can’t tell you how tired I get of people of color trying to lecture me on “privilege,” as if it’s something a gay person, who spent decades trying not to “flaunt it” by even mentioning the gender of the person they went out with last night, has no concept of. Again, it almost always comes across as a put-down, and an effort to explain why whatever I just said is invalid. Because I’m white, gay, a man, and not transgender. They’ve taken a valid point and perverted it entirely.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I agree, that was a great comment of his.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Sometimes I pounce politically – god knows I’ve done it on Twitter – you deal with so many trolls that you just assume everyone is a troll. But you also have to recognize that flaw in yourself, and I do think it’s a flaw, and try to rein it in. I think too many of these people use that argument as a justification for their instant-anger, rather than simply an explanation. I think it’s a valid explanation, and an invalid justification. We all have “triggers” in our lives, and most of us recognize that those triggers turn us into people we’d rather not be.

  • Joe Bosse

    I was with you right up to “This one is not hard to figure out.”
    obvious troll is obvious.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I had a foreign journalist comment to me the other day on how we genuflect to the military, always giving them awards, always honoring them. He found it creepy. They of course “respect” their military over there, but here he found it verged on an unhealthy idolatry, and militarization of the culture.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Your Troll-Fu is weak, inadequate, and obvious.

  • Free America

    This one is not hard to figure out. Liberals are racist and intolerant. Conservatives are not.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Perhaps so, but there is nevertheless a rather unseemly deference paid to the military in this country.

    Or to put another way, I usually default to simple respect for Noncoms, provided they don’t do something to deserve my ire — such as being a homophobe or misogynist or xenophobe. The upper echelon though? I’m talking senior officers, especially generals. They have to earn my respect, because so many of them really aren’t military at all, but politicians in uniform.

  • 2karmanot

    :-)

  • Comfortably numb

    “in America one does not question the political views of vets”

    I think reverend Wright might disagree, among others.

  • Zorba

    Not at all surprising.
    I have been mistaken for Jewish, Mexican, even Native American (I have dark hair and medium-olive skin, which is darker when I get a tan).
    Who in the ever-loving f*ck cares what anyone “is”?

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Or their sexual orientation, or whatever. As I said, people are just people.

  • Silver_Witch

    I liked your example very much. I can relate to it so very well and it has taken much of the almost 60 years on this planet to even begin to peel away at my almost instinctive reaction to anyone being mean – forgetting sometimes that it is not ME that the means/anger is directed at and that in actually it is their own suffering which makes them so reactive.

    I hope for a generation, some day, that is free from these damaging experiences of youth.

  • Indigo

    I’m part Amerindian (and somewhat look it) but not enough to claim a tribal card. I listed ‘mixed race’ on my driver’s license which was fine in my home state of Indiana because they already knew that about my family and in North Dakota because there’s plenty of Amerindian half-breeds around but when I landed in Florida, the drivers’ bureau agent frowned, looked at me, and announced so that every one in the room could hear, “You’re white!” and that’s the way I became “White.”

  • Todd

    I’ve unfortunately had this experience with the transgender community. There is a whole list of ‘dos and dont’s’ and the victim hood behavior just alienates people who might otherwise be supportive.

  • Silver_Witch

    I see no difference between the two either….having met them at work and Wicca gatherings. It is funny that they don’t see their own crazy behavior and how usually they are also that scream of injustice with their second helping of Pie.

  • Badgerite

    Well, yeah. She raised her profile to make a point and then managed to not make one at all. Others may make it but she certainly missed the boat.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I’ve encountered those, too, in the Wiccan/Pagan community. Speaking from my own perspective, I’ve been to Circles where the light-energy is obvious and evident, when everybody leaves with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. And others when certain individuals were present when the result was utter exhaustion, people picking pointless arguments with each other, etc.

  • Indigo

    That happens to me too but it’s okay, if I start to flounder I just switch over to the other language. Oddly enough, I flounder in both. :-)

  • Badgerite

    Yeah.. She got the attention she sought, the platform and then sort of fell down there after.
    You can’t complain about ‘racism’ if you are seemingly openly advocating a racist attitude.
    But that doesn’t necessarily mean her initial emotional response to the Colbert tweet was completely off.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Sure, but ‘triggered emotional reactions’ seems to be her entire schtick.

  • Indigo

    As are Psychic Vampires, there’s several hovering around the CenFla Wicca World. I wonder whether it might same phenomenon identified two ways . . . needy, demanding, co-dependent, drains energy from others in addition to feeding off negative emotions?

  • Badgerite

    Yeah. I would say that that is what Suzy Park had. A real emotional reaction triggered by other experiences and not necessarily having anything really to do with Colbert.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Do write more. Your observation about the psychology of retreating to our most negative experiences and seeing every event through the blinders of only that particular experience, our own perspective, was brilliant.

  • Badgerite

    Well, I think she had an emotional reaction to what Colbert said.
    I would ask you to read the whole article by Prois. It is the first up if you google:
    #Cancel Colbert Response Has Basically Amounted to Hate Spewing.
    I think she explains Park’s reaction far better than Park could. And if you want to know why she had that kind of emotional reaction, just read through to this:

    “Because once Colbert’s character heads home each night, we still exist in a world where ignorance, hatred and ostracizing behavior are very real — in this case, popping up in places like You Tube and Reddit and taking aim mainly at Park. ”

    And then she lists some examples.

    “How can Asians even read twitter with their tiny little slanted eyes.”
    Or
    “I literally kept hoping her mother would walk through her bedroom door and start slapping her and yelling at her in broken English about how she wasted her money on her education.”

    And worse ones that I will not even repeat. And if that is what you have been subjected to when growing up, out of the public eye, on playgrounds and in classrooms (and let’s face it , what goes on on the internet gives you a taste of the ‘playground’ sometimes better than any other media) that only people who are in that ethnic group would know about, then maybe her reaction makes more sense.

    I agree with your overall point about ‘outrage’, but I think in this case, if you are impersonating someone like Rush Limbaugh too well, who got a lot of flack for doing Hu Jintao in a sing song voice, maybe you should reconsider.

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    Interesting discussion. As Becca hints at, there are those among us who seem to be in perpetual ‘ready state’, ready to pounce if they can in anyway construe an action or what someone says as being disrespectful. We see it in political discussions, we see it in road rage. We see it in gang killings and we see it in domestic violence.

    There are many dynamics at work here, none the least is that some people are jerks.

    I’ve had the privilege of having a few seminars with Dr. Ken Hardy, and he opened a world of interesting perspectives that provide insights in the complexity of dynamics at work.

    Once concept is that when we feel we are being attacked, emotionally, most of us ‘retreat’ to the the memory of our worst experiences, which usually invokes the strongest defense mechanisms, regardless if they are needed.

    For example consider a black male who was subjected to racist abuse by whites throughout his childhood and adolescence. As an adult he lives in a part of the country where racism is not tolerated, and there he has a good job. The only problem is that his non-racist white boss is an abusive jerk who yells and screams and because that dynamic of retreating to the ‘worst experience’, this black man will probably feel that the non-racist boss is a racist, and invoke the same defense mechanisms he used to survive the racist abuse of his childhood.

    Another concept is that within every interaction between two people, there is one person that has more power and privilege. And this is fluid: A man and a woman at the park, the male has the privilidge in our culture. A man talking to his female boss, the boss has the privileged. It’s this way with gay/straight, white/black, etc. etc.

    Some of us feel that privilege bestowed upon us and some of us don’t. But the person without the power in the interaction is usually away of their lack of power.

    There’s a lot more to this but I’m not sure if you all are interested. Let me know if you want me to write more. It’s taken me 25 years to absorb and understand all of this and I’m still learning.

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    I understand and relate to how you don’t see yourself as being white. I too don’t see myself as white either. Regardless, the color of our skin has bestowed ‘white privilege’ upon us, and it is wise to try to understand that. Ditto for being male.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Well, I’m just glad that even among the self-described ‘conservative’ millennials, the general consensus seems to be, “Wait — there’s nothing wrong with being gay or with same-sex marriage.”

  • lynchie

    Well the experiment in bilingualism still underway in Canada has been moderately successful. Less so with the old guard of Quebec and English Canada. For the most part the youth have accepted that you simply learn and speak in both languages and you are a better person for it. Each side has tried to muscle the other. In Quebec French is the superior language and there are provincial laws which require French only or French above English and the same in Western Canada. It takes a long time for change to evolve. You can’t legislate it. You have to let it happen. In terms of gay marriage everyone needs to get past the stereotypes and simply accept people as people (nothing new in what I am saying) if the person is not a good person it really does not matter whether he is gay or hetero or transgender. He is not a good person. But we tend to want to marginalize those we don’t want to understand or get to know. We must find something wrong so we can justify our hate. Sad really.

  • Zorba

    John, when my WASP husband-to-be did the traditional thing, out of respect for my parents, and came to “formally” ask their blessing for our engagement, while my father was thrilled, my mother went out in the back yard and cried.
    Because he wasn’t Greek.
    So I absolutely know what you are talking about.
    Although, as my Mr. Zorba advanced in his career, and as we produced the first grandkids, my mother certainly came around, and began to think that he walked on water. ;-)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    We have that here in New Mexico, too. I’ve been studying Spanish (very, very slowly) but I do hope one day to be able to reply with confidence, “Buenos Dias! Que pasa!” — and actually be able to carry on a conversation after that opening. ;-)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I picked up the ‘emotional vampires’ term myself when I attended Al-Anon for some years back in the mid-80s, so it’s been around for a while. Oddly enough, it existed in both contexts — as the alcoholic being an emotional vampire on those around him or her, and also as the co-dependent who ‘thrives’ (if it can be called that) on strife and being a victim and constantly being upset.

    However, when I realized that’s what the Westboro cult was doing, I knew it was a perfect prime example. Why else would someone go to a person’s funeral — the saddest possible moment for any of that person’s loved ones and friends — and carry a message of hate? Why else other than to generate anger, sadness, and outrage on the part of the mourners? Sure, it’s bullying, but they’re also doing it because they actually enjoy people being angry at them — they feed on the negative emotions. Hence ‘emotional vampires’, or to be clear, vampires whose mode of feeding is on other people’s negative emotions.

  • Zorba

    Yes. The Irish were discriminated against when they first came over to this country. As were the Italians and other Mediterraneans.
    Even in the early 1960′s, when I was a Freshman in high school, I was called a “dirty Greek” by my history teacher.
    Even my Jewish friends were not free of prejudice against Jews of different backgrounds. Many, many years ago, I had a good friend of German-Jewish heritage whose parents were appalled that she wanted to marry a Jewish guy of Galicianer-Jewish heritage.
    Can we just get the f*ck over this type of nonsense already? People are just people. Wherever they hail from, whatever their race, whatever their religion, whatever their sexual orientation. I don’t give a rat’s @ss. Everyone is different, and everyone should be judged on their actions, not on their heritage, race, whatever.
    We still have a whole lot of growing up to do.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    When I go to Miami no one bothers with the English! Though I get that in my neighborhood in DC too. People just assume I speak Spanish (which I do). I find it kind of fun :-)

  • 4th Turning

    Wait, wait. The millennials are a whole other community garden on which I’m betting all my remaining chips!

  • lynchie

    love it

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh yeah. We had a relative marry a redhead American girl (“amerikanida” as we say), and I remember walking in on the aunts all talking and saying that while she was a nice girl, what a shame it was. And she was in the next room!

  • mtblaze

    That’s mighty white of her.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Isn’t that rather generalizing?

    Those same generations are why the casual bigotry of racism, sexism, and homophobia have become socially unacceptable to the degree they have in the present day. Just 20 years ago, it would’ve been unheard of for any business leader to be criticized for being anti-gay, much less lose his job.

    The only reason we’ve made progress like this is because significant numbers of these younger folks aren’t nearly as narrow-minded as many of their elders.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yep. I was going to write about the fact that I don’t even see myself as white. Greek, yes. Chicagoan. Man. Gay. American. Midwesterner. But white? It’s just not a flavor in my book. I tend to divide up white people just as you noted , though I have no problem dating a Pole ;-)

  • 4th Turning

    Agree on the birthright observation. Was raised in one of your garden
    variety fundamentalist religions. But the graft never took although I’d
    have qualified as a model youth. Feathers obviously too saturated.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I remember learning that my father’s family — which hails primarily from Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and Romania — objected vehemently to him marrying my mother, whose family was basically 100% Irish. The complaint being “we don’t need more of THOSE people sullying our good name.” (It turned out there was an earlier Irish marriage a few generations back that was equally resented in the family.)

    And with respect to my parents, we’re talking the early 1960s. Then again, I come from a long line of bigoted jerks, always looking for someone even more disadvantaged to blame for every problem…

  • stranded

    That’s part of it, but I think it’s more just human nature. We’re all born ignorant but some people are just more objective about overcoming their ignorance than others. Some people expect their own life lessons to be universal when that is obviously not true. One of the major factors as I see it is that our online discussions are equivalent to being behind the wheel of a car and reacting to other people as if they are their cars, not as people. I’m guilty of it too. I’d never act toward others in person the way I sometimes get while driving. At our keyboards it’s easy to do the same thing, reduce others to stereotypes based on our own prejudices and frustrations.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I think there’s a good argument that often those of us not part of a community do need to stop and listen to the concerns of that community. I can’t say to be fully aware of what it’s like to be trans. I am in favor of full rights for trans people but I’m not kidding myself that I don’t need to be educated. At the same time, attacking someone as anti-trans because they didn’t get the latest memo on which terms are okay and which ones are not doesn’t do any good. A group that small needs more allies, not fewer. Starting off a conversation with “You are probably not aware of this, but…” instead of throwing glitter on someone and calling them transphobic would probably be a better idea.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I hit against it sometimes as well. What I find odd is that the people most sensitive to such things are the most insensitive when it comes to anyone else’s taboos and concerns. That’s not a huge surprise. I noticed that phenomenon as a child (those most likely to get their feelings hurt are the most likely to go out of their way to do things that are intended to hurt the feelings of others). Academia is a landmine of such things. Fortunately my field (music) is a bit less prone to this nonsense as the humanities, but it does affect all sorts of things we have to deal with from the university as a whole.

  • Silver_Witch

    Not my coinage…sort of a hip thing from the Psychology community (circa 90′s). They are quite real though…I work with one.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    One only has to look back a few decades to see how we gays would be living today if it weren’t for our straight allies. It’s amazing how many of them get it once they know gay people. I find this even more true of young people. I can look at the college age people I interact with daily and see friendships between gay and straight classmates. It’s just not an issue to most of them any more than they’d reject someone as a friend for being left-handed or having red hair. Race is similarly far less of a factor. The more people you know the more you realize that we are all far more alike than we are different and that you are just as likely to find kindred spirits among people of other ethnic backgrounds or sexual orientations as you are among your “own kind”. Frankly I think of “my own kind” as other musicians and people with similar interests, not people similarly pigmented. What a silly thing to base anything on other than the selection of appropriate sunscreen spf factor for a day at the beach.

  • Indigo

    One redeeming practice in Miami and environs (Dade County), Florida is the frequent use of both English and Spanish in a coded way, to say “Buenos dias, Good morning” implies “I speak both but would just as soon speak Spanish” while “Good morning, buenos dias” reverses the order of preference. Ah, the joys of bilingualism [on a good day]!

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The important thing to remember here is that the kind of people we are talking about do not represent the vast majority of people of their gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Just because someone is loud or especially inflammatory does not mean that they are representative of anyone but themselves. If you are going to put your opinions and views out there in the public square, someone somewhere is going to lambaste you for something. Sometimes they have a legitimate point to make or point out some aspect of an issue you might not have considered or share facts you didn’t already know. And sometimes they are just nutjobs. Being publicly criticized is the price you pay for opening your mouth in public (or in print or online).

    On the specifics of this, the telling quote is the one about not wanting white people on her side. Well that’s not going to get her very far is it? Some people (not very many but some) like their status as “other”. They love being angry at the majority whoever that is in relation to them, feeling misunderstood and victimized. They don’t care about equal rights or being understood. They remind me of the gay people who complain about “assimilationsists”. I don’t think gay people who want to get married, have kids and live in a nice home in the suburbs should feel they need to apologize for that. We have our own band of crazy on the left. They just don’t run the Democratic party like the loonies on the right run the GOP. But we have them. They really should mostly be ignored. They mostly are except by right-wingers looking for someone to quote mine and try to make it sound like the rest of us are that insane.

  • 2karmanot

    Brava!

  • Indigo

    I know of White Court and Red Court and interact all too often with Psychic Vampires but Emotional Vampire is a new category for me. I see what you mean, though. Good coinage, if you coined it.

  • Indigo

    The “you white people” expression arises from a profound ignorance of us-white-people and how we interact with each other. The Irish and the English come to mind but of course, out in the Midwest where tradition is Tradition, a decent German lass never, but never dates a Polish lad, lest her grandparents be so appalled as to invoke solid Germanic virtue. And let’s not talk about those Mediterranean types since they are so obviously not white-people-like-us. Ignorance? Oh, my! Yes, Suey Park, it’s as obnoxous as, possibly worse than, the great dissatisfaction of Koreans with the Japanese . . . or viceversa, for that matter.

  • 4th Turning

    Would you agree that the self-absorption which seems to have taken root in generations
    coming of age beginning in the 80′s might also be a major factor?

  • caphillprof

    I think all this outrage and being offended are actually preventing change, slowing it down, even backfiring.

    A tweet is not enough. It rarely explains or engages. Stop tweeting and start doing something in the real world.

    Co religionists are not necessarily allies. One can be on the Left and be a downright impediment to the progressive movement.

    There are many bullies in academia.

    Controlling language is only a battle. One can win that battle and still lose the war. At the end of the day it is less about language and more about understanding.

  • Silver_Witch

    Well said Becca…sadly today, the world is full of Emotional Vampires that have learned to feed off fear and hatred. They then set out to seek to create more fear and hatred. Some are on the right and some are on the left….they don’t really care whose fear they feed from.

  • 4th Turning

    Yes, challenging beliefs or claims is considered insubordinate, immoral and could lead to rebellion, disobedience or perhaps worse: revolution. For the Republican Party and their followers, thinking is subversive, imagination is a sin and the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere is working to codify this into public policy. The plutocrats can’t have a working-class citizenry that is asking questions of those in power, be they parents or bosses; instead, the people must be taught the ideology of what is morally acceptable, what rules and regulations to follow. and even more importantly, how to accept and internalize hierarchical authoritarianism. Critical thinking is a direct challenge to the “leaders” and their claims on authority, and any opposition to vertical arrangements is ethically unacceptable to those in power.

    http://truth-out.org/news/item/10144-texas-gop-declares-no-more-teaching-of-critical-thinking-skills-in-texas-public-schools

  • 2karmanot

    It was a dark and stormy night when Dedrie opined that the liberal left had fumbled plays in political games when they began with possession of the ball, first down, on the 50-yard line and embarrassed her bridge party with a patriarchal metaphor.

  • 4th Turning

    Maybe the mean-spirited/lack of civility crowd lacks the humor chromosome-
    unless we count laughs from getting hit in the groin with baseballs or fukking
    (prefer the Irish here) repeated 50x in a comedy central monologue….

  • stranded

    One issue I don’t see discussed specifically, but I think is at the heart of what you’re getting at with these great posts, John, is that to be an effective advocate requires a level of diplomacy that can effectively stand up to contentious debate and manage the message from a point of civil discourse. I’ve increasingly become disturbed by the tone of the commentariat which quickly devolves into arguments of who is the bigger idiot. Arguments are based on classes of people and gross generalizations directed at others in a tribalist mindset that I just don’t share. In these arguments the “other” loses all human nuance and life experience to become “the sinner” or worse, “the devil.” The sense of self-righteousness itself is something that’s rarely taken into consideration. Knowing the strengths of your debated position while overcoming your sense of moral or ethical superiority is how effective diplomacy works. Unless the goal is just to argue ourselves into obscurity I’d like to see more real diplomacy in these online debates. Kudos for starting that dialog here.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And, as I’ve learned with gay rights, you’d be surprised how well “the other” “gets” your issues if you bother to take the time to explain your issues and treat people with respect. Straight people have been amazing supporters of our issues, and I know a lot of guys who care about women’s rights/equality as well as other progressive issues. And it would be asy to write this as off as unique to the issue of race, but it’s not. It permeates the entire left, though the left of the left.

  • http://40yrs.blogspot.com Matthew G. Saroff

    As I wrote in the comments at Salon regarding Ms. Cooper’s first post on Colber, her response, essentially that, “It’s a minority thing.” Is intellectually dishonest and intellectually lazy.

    First, it is an argument from authority, and second, as a writer, she should take the time to provide context from which “White Liberals” can understand.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    A few thoughts, in no particular order:

    - I’ve written before about the tendencies of some on the far-conservative right. Not just any conservative, but those who go into a frothing spittle-flecked frenzy whenever Obama or the Dems or anybody on the liberal left does something they don’t like. Which seems to be all the time. Like, for instance, expressing outrage that Obama, following the customs of a country he’s visiting, gives a small bow to the other country’s leader — ignoring the constant hand-holding and sloppy kisses Dubya gave to Saudi Uncle Bandar.

    I’ve referred to it as addiction to rage, to negative emotions. An actual addiction to anger and adrenaline, such that it’s not enough to be angry at the usual things that happen to us and in the world, but they seek out reasons to be angry. There are no wins, just more reasons to define downward the reasons to be enraged. Add in politics and partisanship and forms of tribalism, and suddenly the ‘righteous anger’ is skewed, such that things that ought to outrage — such as learning that our national security agencies were engaged in torture and war crimes — don’t cause any reaction at all. But things that ought not matter or shouldn’t rise to full-blown outrage do.

    They also feed off the negative attention. Having others angry and annoyed with them is seen as a good thing, a positive outcome — a prime example of which are the Westboro Baptist Church goons. They know they’re pissing people off, with those funeral protests and all, but the WBCers want that to happen. They’re emotional vampires, but what they feed on is other people’s negative emotions.

    Well, the left isn’t immune from this either, the addiction to self-righteous anger and all the other stuff — and it’s often easy to indulge the habit against those who should be considered one’s allies because allies tend not to fight back. The ally is an easy win in the outrage game because they’ll apologize and ask what they did wrong — which is just another opening for further attacks because you apparently were so horrible a person, you didn’t even pro-actively know you were supposed to behave differently or say something using other words.

    Like you, John, I don’t have much patience for those who attack allies, or whose own prejudices, stereotypes, and scapegoating reveal themselves in generalizations as bad as those who equate being gay with pedophilia. When someone starts in on ‘gay white male privilege’, I’m already tuning them out. Especially since as a bisexual white female, I know I’m only a little further down the Outrage Inc. enemies list.

    - Let’s also remember it’s the loudest, most vehemently strident voices that attract the most attention. And self-righteously angry people tend to be quite loud in their demands to be paid attention. (How else are they going to feed their negative emotion addiction?) So they say outrageous things, hoping to provoke a response. They attack enemy and ally alike. Wins and progress are dismissed as insufficient, imperfect, and not worth having at all.

    Aside: For example, in this “the imperfect is the enemy of progress” notion, I would include those on the left who think the Affordable Care Act should simply be repealed or overturned completely in court, knowing full well there is no realistic chance of anything happening for years other than a return to the 2009 status quo ante — of skyrocketing double-digit premium increases, junkification of policies, and recissions and pre-existing condition denials. Because not everybody’s been helped, because the SCOTUS behaved yet again like partisan d-nozzles and overturned the Medicaid expansion requirement for all states, because not everybody can manage the premiums, because the website roll-out was terrible, because for-profit insurance wasn’t abolished, because we didn’t get the drug importation or public option or single-payer, the ACA should be thrown away in toto. Even knowing what was possible in 2010 is impossible today and will likely remain impossible for at least the next several election cycles.

    Because apparently having nothing, accepting the reality of unnecessary untreated illnesses and deaths, is preferable to the imperfect attempt at progress. We have to be complicit in things remaining as horrible as possible…why? To help bring on a violent revolution?

    - Anyway, there are those who look for enemies everywhere, and can easily find them. Even finding ‘enemies’ among self-described allies who make an innocent mistake… or whose attempt to be helpful or to make a joke is deliberately misconstrued so as to create a source for outrage. I prefer to look for allies, for those who are at least trying to be helpful, even if they do so imperfectly. For example, I’m not going to go all medieval on someone who refers to my wife as my partner — because at least they’ve acknowledged our marriage, even if they didn’t use the word I prefer.

    We have allies among the African American community — but I have no patience for those who say we LGBTs are not allowed to compare our situation with that of interracial marriage or African American civil rights, that doing so in any way whatsoever is a “slap in the face” (actual words in a comment from some weeks back) to the civil rights movement. I have no patience for someone who manufactures faux outrage over Stephen Colbert, apparently lacking the capacity to comprehend satire and hyperbole — more angry at him than they are at the Washington Redskins owner who not only included the offensive name in his supposed charitable foundation, but plastered it with a Redskins logo which equivalent to the image of a minstrel show performer. As Colbert himself pointed out, we’re still waiting for the angry responses to the actual target of Colbert’s satire. So far, crickets. (I’m guessing the same sorts in Jonathan Swift’s day assumed A Modest Proposal actually advocated Irish infant cannibalism.)

    And I have no patience for those who attack bisexuals with unwarranted stereotypes, who attack gay white males simply for being those three things, or who attack anybody who is making a good faith effort to help and to be an ally.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    As i think I noted, this is about more than her. It’s a larger problem that she helped bring to a head.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    And the commentary by Cooper used the exact same silencing arguments as Park. And it’s the same arguments we’ve heard from the fringe trans activists. It’s a larger problem, it’s not just Park, it’s not just gender, it’s not just race. I’ve heard the same intellectual garbage from white gay (usually young) men. It’s something they’re picking up, likely in college, and with the Internet this unproductive gobblygook is having a far bigger impact than it was before – in a bad unproductive way.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I think it’s a wake up call for sane members of all of our communities to speak up more. I didn’t directly mention it in my story above, and wanted to do a separate post on it, but the two writers Andrea James and Calpernia Addams are trans women taking on this exact intolerance problem in the trans community. I read their two stories and it was the first time in a long time that I read something from a trans activist that made me want to be more, rather than less, of an ally. So good people are out there in all communities – they just need to speak up more, or the bad ones will define the movement.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That is interesting. When I saw that she did a “not your Asian sidekick” campaign, I did think that she had a point, I’d never thought about it, but they do like to make the Asian guy the “fun” sidekick. And while blacks and gays might say it’s a step up from being portrayed as the crazed axe murderer, which we all traditionally got, it also goes to the point that Asian stereotypes are often positive, in the “they’re so smart” kind of vein, and I wonder if it makes people less sensitive to the hurtfulness of the stereotyping, since non-Asians think it’s “positive.” And the same goes for the sidekick – he’s “fun” so what could be wrong with that, goes the thinking I suspect.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh yeah, and then Suey Park’s great great grandmother called for Harte to be cancelled because he obviously hates Asians.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh god, I hadn’t even checked those out. I will now.

  • emjayay

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  • emjayay

    The comments at the Salon interview are unfortunately addictive.

    Anyway, like others, I have seen damaged goods with a few college classes under their belts and not much else like Ms. Park many times over the years. Her syndrome is nothing new, just the opportunity for 15 minutes of twitter fame from her bedroom instead of having to go to a meeting and poisoning the proceedings there instead. She’s like a newly hatched member of the Maoist Youth League or something. I was going to say Communist but then I thought Maoist was funnier and then I thought oh wait is that racist white person thinking and then…..

    One particularly amusing bit of her self obsession commented on at Salon (like everything else) is that she thinks she is a comedian too. She’s hilarious all right, but not the way she imagines.

  • 4th Turning

    You go g*rl!!!

    This came in the mail today…

    Having spoken out against such vicious nonsense for years, in 1870, Harte decided to deliver a withering satire on the subject. The result—a poem called “Plain Language from Truthful James”—appeared in the September issue of the Overland and swiftly became the most popular thing Harte ever wrote.

    “Plain Language from Truthful James”—or “The Heathen Chinee,” as it came to be known—tells the story of a card game between a Chinese man named Ah Sin and a pair of white men. Everyone is cheating, but Ah Sin cheats better, and wins. When his opponents discover his trickery, they are outraged. “We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor,” one of them cries. This is the punch line, a delicious inversion of a phrase already popular among anti-Chinese agitators, appropriated by Harte to expose the hypocrisy of white racism. The Chinese worker, Harte later wrote, “did as the Caucasian did in all respects, and, being more patient and frugal, did it a little better.” He learned the white man’s game, and proceeded to beat him at it.

    “The Heathen Chinee” penetrated American culture with terrific speed, setting off, in the words of Harte’s friend (and rival) Mark Twain, “an explosion of delight whose reverberations reached the last confines of Christendom.” It went viral, ripped from its original context and reprinted in the nation’s newspapers and magazines—the Internet of the day. Its lines were recited, quoted, parodied, set to music, reprinted and resold on city streets…

    Harte had another reason to regret the poem: Many readers missed the ironic tone, interpreting the parable as a sincere endorsement of anti-Chinese racism.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/04/cancelcolbert-meet-the-heathen-chinee-105495.html#ixzz2yP1GgG9E

  • Badgerite

    I think the terms ‘hashtag’ and ‘activism’ don’t really go together quite so well as the younger generation seems to think. Seriously, how much ‘activism’ do you think you can promote in 140 characters? How much serious and coherent thought? How much real change? It just sounds like a method of self aggrandizement and narcissism more than anything else. Or that is what it has devolved into. Which is fine if you just want amusement. I think that is why someone who is a big deal in the ‘hashtag’ universe falls down when they have to defend their actions in an actual interview.
    Interviews tend to go on for longer than 140 characters. If they are any good.

  • Baal

    When you teach at a university you come face to face with this phenomenon all the time. But I have learned to have a thick skin.

  • Baal

    Pretty much the way I see it, but I am a white liberal male, so don’t count.

  • silas1898

    Whenever someone professes to “know” what an entire group of people thinks or feels (in “lockstep”, of course), I ignore whatever comes next because it’s all BS. I hear “you think you…..” and tune out.

    A lot of straight, white men care a lot about equaity issues, but crap like this makes me think “why bother?”.

    Maybe we should leave them to the tender mercies of the Phyllis Schlafley faction of the Sisterhood.

  • Em Chappell-Root

    The thing White Liberals keep being told is “We don’t need your help, everything about you is evil/bad/wrong and defined as so by your skin tone”. Then we’re told that because we are white, that is not racism, or not “real racism” because it’s not institutional racism. If POC were told the same things, it would automatically be racism and dismissal of individuals and cause in an insulting and demeaning way. But because we’re white, we’re supposed to put up with it. If we don’t stand up actively to defend, we’re “promoting systemic racism” but if we stand up to speak in favor of other peoples rights and equality, we’re suffering white guilt/don’t understand/whatever.

    Everyone needs allies. While hopefully bigotry is going to die out eventually from natural causes like old age and common sense, unless people are willing to wait that century or so, they need allies from those whom aren’t written off as easily by the bigots. A bigot is going to give a little more credence to someone who matches their own mold, who they feel should believe like them than the person they look down on. That means they are going to look at why people “like them” believe differently easier than why the people they are biased against don’t agree.

    When you act in hate, especially towards people who should be your allies, you make them want to work for your good less and less. Personally, I keep fighting for universal equality because I believe it’s the right thing to do, though it increasingly feels like we’re not fighting for equality, but to be the worlds whipping post. No one wants a pat on the back for being the “enlightened, non racist white” but they sure don’t want to have folks spit in their face for the color of their skin just as much as anyone else doesn’t want it.

  • keirmeister

    I had never heard of Suey Park until this Colbert thing. Without knowing anything about her, I thought her actions were misguided,but at least sincere; and it was unfair to be so harsh on her.

    Then I heard her interviews…OMFG! Frankly, she deserves scorn. She uses pseudo-intellectualism to talk her way out of any notion of criticism. And if you criticize her, it’s because you’re being White/Male/Hetero-normative/a sellout…whatever.

    Her shtick is tired…and it’s the type of thing I would expect from Republicans who know their position is bad but can’t admit it. Interestingly, I also find her shtick easy to defeat. As I said in another posting about her, she relies on the liberal notion of fairness and political correctness – and she’ll try her best to guilt trip you into backing off your criticism of her nonsense.

    Simply don’t play her game. Don’t let her obfuscate. Don’t let her call you names without hitting back at her – particularly by using her own words against her. She’s angry, racist, and quite ironically, oozes arrogance and entitlement.

    What’s sad is that, she may become a lightning rod – a symbol conservatives will use to their advantage. If there is a “liberal” equivalent to the “Radical Right”, Park is it; and she’s just as odious. Park’s ilk may not be as powerful and the Radical Right, but rest assured conservatives will paint them as such. And whatever GOOD causes she may espouse, her own personality will obscure it.

    This is not the type of Liberalism we need.

  • Sean

    Thanks for posting this. It’s a bigger issue than just Suey Park. For more than 30 years I’ve seen progressive meetings and organizations hijacked by angry and damaged people who lash out at the nearest target, and use their minority identity as a magic shield against any disagreement. Building a society where we overcome group-based discrimination, rather than just flip it around, is a central challenge for the Left.

  • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

    I know little about Suey Park, other than she seems angry, incoherent and intent on self-promotion. What is it about her that puts her on “the Left”?

  • BeminDC

    “She seems nice.” LOVE IT! ;)

  • BeminDC

    Appreciate and agree with most of the discussion. Sure wish you wouldn’t give S.P. any more oxygen/ attention, though. It keeps her going . . .

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