Postcards from the culture wars (10.17)

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“Half of America seems to be entirely enviable, movies, books, TV, arts, liberal democratic institutions, great centers of learning and research, gay marriage, social freedoms, etc. etc. The other half does seem to be, well, nuts.”

“If you want to know what the early marks of religious totalitarianism look like, these are your indicators.”

“In chambers, the ACLU alleges that Judge Rimes told Singh that he wouldn’t be allowed to reenter the courtroom unless he removed ‘that rag,’ referring to his Dastar, from his head.”

“Imagine for a moment this kind of wholesale abuse at an Islamic-run program. Do you think the press would forget to mention the religious connection?

“We have imagined and hoped for such a different future for the church, one in which racial harmony would not be an illusion, but a tangible reality.”

“Am I going to alter the course by the latest utterance of some institutional pimp who appears to spend most of his time blow drying his hair and in his free time dismisses some of his finest teachers and scholars, seeking to make robots and handmaidens of a once-gifted faculty?”

“Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans share and are consumed by skepticism about climate science — to the point where they mistrust scientists before they begin to speak.”

“Let me be clear: The racial slur ‘redskins’ is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist.”

“That’s probably a concept that’s too much for you to handle right now, when all you wanted to do was dress up as a PocaHottie for Halloween, but it’s true.”

“But to our knowledge and based on our investigation, none of those things have actually happened.”

“They write laws to codify bigotry against people whose sexual orientation they condemn. They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule.”

“It’s a good case of the church hierarchy undone by their highest ideals.”

“It’s not just that these culturally threatened folk embrace their politics like it’s a religion. The actual religious outlook many of them espouse — whether they are conservative fundamentalist Protestants or neo-ultramontane Catholics — has imported secular political perspectives into their faith.”

“On [Oct. 14] in 1979 the first gay rights march on Washington took place, with about 100,000 demonstrators. I was one of them.”

“It may be decent advice, and it may help to a point, but it does not deal with the heart or the source of the problem: the boys who rape.”

“Which is to say, there is no such thing as ‘sexual availability.’ There is consent, sure, but without it, a person is not available, full stop.”

The 50 Most Racist Political Cartoons

Tea-Party Insult Generator: From actual insults posted on John Boehner’s Facebook wall.”


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  • GDwarf

    You seem to have encountered an ancient Athenian, who held pretty much those exact views best as I can tell.

  • Lori

    That sort of frames the logo as tokenism and I’m not convinced that makes it better.

  • GDwarf

    There’s literally no word for white people that compares to any of the racial words for people of color.

    “Cracker”, maybe?

  • Caddy Compson

    I mentioned this below. As someone for whom the cracker label applies (poor white southern extraction), there is no real bite behind that word. I’d find someone using it disparagingly completely disrespectful, but I wouldn’t feel that it dehumanized me. Because there is no cultural, historical or institutional heft behind it. When someone says the n word (or any of the other slurs against people of color), they’re not just saying a single word. They’re calling on the entire context surrounding that word–a context in which black people were kidnapped from their homes and forced into slavery and then dealt with economic and cultural subjugation for centuries, a context in which ‘black’ is equated with ‘criminal,’ with ‘lazy,’ with ‘inferior.’ There’s simply no word for white people that has that kind of power behind it.

  • Chloe P. H. Lewis


  • tricksterson

    The inherent lustfulness of women was also pretty much standard Christian doctrine for a very long time.

  • tricksterson

    I would say “honkie” but that’s been out of style since the 70s. I have heard “white” used as a pejorative but it seems to be more a style thing than a race thing. i say this because I’ve heard it used by white kids. I’ve also heard, a lot, “niggah” (always with the soft “ah”, never the hard “er” which is still considered insulting),used transracially.

  • tricksterson

    Wjat about “Viking”? Although that ethnic rather than racist (not really a difference though since one is just a subset of the other) and I really have never heard of anyone of Scandinavian extraction object to the football team being called that. Same for the Celtics (although I do find it annoying that they use the soft c rather than the proper hard c) or the Fighting Irish.of Notre Dame

  • tricksterson

    That’s actually kind of how it was originally done back before it became a symbol of racial terrorism. The burning cross was originally used as a signal in Scotland to summon the clan together is times of crisis.

  • Daniel

    Slavers, maybe? Or Lynchers? Segregationists? Can you have “genocider”- I know it’s not a word, but it’s clear what it means and it sounds more sporty than “ethnic cleanser”.

  • Lori

    That really doesn’t explain why he thought it should be part of his Halloween display. Is he concerned about running out of candy and calling the clan to either bring more or protect the homestead from TPers or what?

  • Lori

    Génocidaire is a word, but I’m not sure enough people would get it for it to be an effective slur. It also has the problem that white people are not the only ones who commit genocide. I think we should just go with Washington Racists. We can cover the ethnic cleansing angle by making the mascot a caricature of a Klansman or something.

  • J_Enigma32

    At issue is the fact that there simply is not an effective racist moniker for whites. You can go and you can select certain ethnic groups – Stupid Poles, Drunk Irish (more insulting, but still based on “race”) – but in general, there isn’t one for whites as a whole.

    That’s why I went for a label that would encompass as many white people as possible, that I felt they’d identify with, and then usurp that by associating it with racial imagery.

    Calling them the “Klansmen” or the “Slaveholders” will rile feathers, but you’ll get the response “My parents aren’t Klansmen” or “my ancestors never held slaves”, thus allowing them to push it off. Or, if they do, it hits deeper, since they identify with that label. It’ll have more impact, the combined imagery + name, than just the name alone.

    They can’t do that with Wasp or Saxon. IMO, Associating a moniker most identify as with racist imagery as is appropriate is the most effective way to get to them.

    I’ve also thought about using Ghostface or Paleface in previous examples, but even that lacks sting.

  • J_Enigma32

    The derogatory power isn’t coming from the name. I want them to identify with the name.

    IMO, the power is coming from the imagery associated with the name, linking something they identify closely to with open racism. After all, the fastest way to get called a racist in some circles is to accuse whites of being racist. The implication that a label you closely associate with being deeply rooted in racism (such as it is) is going to leave a larger mark than simply calling them “crackers”, “honkeys”, or whatever else.

  • J_Enigma32

    Apparently I confused two insults with “ghostface”; “pale face” and “ghost” (gweilo), which is Chinese. Ergo, has absolutely no sting in the United States at all and is liable to bundle up individuals with albinism (both are, actually).

  • Carstonio

    From my reading, Emily Yoffe wasn’t blaming the victim. She sounded sadly defeatist to me, and her follow-up article even more so. Imagine the American South today if the early civil rights leaders did nothing more than simply advise black men to be wary around whites.

  • smrnda

    Most slurs that exist were just for certain segments of the white population, such as the k-word for Jews or various slurs for the Irish, and were probably used by other white people more than anyone else.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    -Pat Oliphant’s use of Nazi imagery in criticism of Israel isn’t anti-semitic, nor is it even particularly original. The “person targeted” listed on the website isn’t even “Jews”, it’s “Israelis”. Incidentally, Oliphant’s other included cartoon about Clarence Thomas was racist, but no more so than all the white liberals who have called Thomas (or or any other black conservative) an Uncle Tom.
    - Saying that Islam is violent, even inherently so, isn’t racist.
    -Saying that Mexico has a lot of problems which spill into the US through our Southern border, also not racist.
    -The “walk the dog” cartoon is a stupid pun about a political non-event, but not racist.
    -The terrorist fist bump cover was very very clearly a satire of the stupidity of large portions of the GOP base. Unless you think Swift was a monster who enjoyed eating Irish kids, I don’t see how anyone could take it seriously.

    Putting these alongside viciously racist cartoons, especially those from the 19th and early 20th century, is bizarre when there are plenty of better examples.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    I don’t even think in Japan it does much of anything, I’m a white guy in China and being called 老外 never bothered me to begin with. Growing up in rural Arizona, the Mexicans called me “White boy” a lot, which bugged me a little but never seemed equivalent to dropping an n-bomb (which the Mexican kids also did regularly and, even at the time, I could tell was a far more venomous thing ).

    Other white people making class-based remarks like “white trash” does bug me, though. Because I can speak English halfway decently and dress well, sometimes acquaintances will call someone “trailer trash” or “redneck” right in front of me, and I have to try not to be an asshole while explaining that I’m a redneck who grew up in a trailer and what’s their issue with that exactly? I usually get some version of the “you’re not like the people I’m talking about” speech.

  • Caddy Compson

    Yes, exactly.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I haven’t looked at any of the cartoons myself, but based on your analysis, I can say with confidence that every one of the cartoons that you say isn’t racist is in fact virulently racist.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    A cogent and reasonable analysis, you’ve convinced me.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh shut the fuck up and go the fuck away. I am not obligated to educate you on why your racist opinions are racist. You are obligated to educate yourself on why your racist opinions are racist, and then to stop holding those racist opinions.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    You should educate yourself on making sense, maybe take a logic class or two if the notion of cause and effect doesn’t seem like too much of a patriarchal white construct to you.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, don’t you worry about my education, I assure you you’re under no obligation to make sure I know anything (unless you’re secretly one of my professors, in which case tell me so I can quit your class), and also the only reason I’m not already taking a logic class is it wasn’t available this term. It’s on the agenda, I assure you.

    What does that have to do with the price of tea in China or the fact that “Islam is inherently violent” is a HIDEOUSLY FUCKING RACIST statement?

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    Islam is a race, and not a belief system? Huh.


    Yeah, maybe fast track that logic course there.

  • EllieMurasaki

    There’s such a thing, in the eyes of white America, as a white Muslim? News to me. Even the Boston Marathon bomber, who’s as white as anybody else from the Caucasus, couldn’t possibly be white, because he’s Muslim. Yes. Anti-Islam is racism. “Islam is inherently violent” is an anti-Islam statement, therefore it is a racist statement, stop fucking making it.
    I leave why the rest of your hideously fucking racist statements are hideously fucking racist as an exercise for the reader, namely, you.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    Thanks Socrates.

  • alfgifu

    1) Islam is a belief system deeply associated in popular consciousness with people who are not white, primarily those of Arab descent.

    2) All the images of violent Muslims included in that catalogue of racist cartoons are depicted as being stereotypically Arabic. Their features are distorted to create an uglified version of someone of Middle Eastern descent.

    3) You offered an opinion. ElleMurasaki offered a different opinion. Your response was to chide her for not making a good argument. If you can’t tell the difference between an opinion and an argument, then you must find internet discussions a deeply trying experience. Aristotle.

  • Eight_Rule_Pig

    1) Most Muslims aren’t Arabs. A lot of Arab and Eastern European Muslims are (and even refer to themselves as) white, and show up that way on the US Census. Even if they were all midnight black, so what? Islam is off limits for criticism because of that? Is inherently racist? This is an offensively stupid position.
    2) The cartoon in question isn’t very detailed, and other than the guy wearing a turban (which isn’t a genetic trait, last I checked), nothing physically sets him up as a racial caricature.
    3) It is totally unreasonable to expect people to back up assertions with arguments. It’s also completely unreasonable to expect people to back up accusations of racism, and totally reasonable to just call people racist with little or no basis, because racism is harmless and not something people take seriously. Got it, Plato.

  • alfgifu

    1 & 2) I agree that it is offensively stupid for somebody to regard Islam as a race. It seemed to me that that is what the cartoons were doing, and that is why they have been labelled racist in this context.
    Perhaps I’m reading too much into the cartoons – the facial features are pretty similar to other ‘evil Muslim’ cartoons I’ve seen (which mostly seem to be based on various interpretations of Osama bin Laden’s craggy features), so that’s given me the impression of a racial caricature.
    Similarly, the papal crocodiles in the cartoon targeting the Irish seems to be conflating a religion with a racial category. In both cases what comes across is not critique of the religion (which absolutely should be possible) but cheap racial stereotyping.

    3) Nothing wrong with asking people for arguments or justification for their opinions – but that isn’t what you did just upthread. You criticised an opinion for not being a cogent and reasonable analysis, and (unsurprisingly) got a hostile response. Not a very constructive debating technique, Pythagoras, particularly in an anonymous context where you have no idea what racially-charged issues might be generating extra stress for the people you’re speaking to.

    4)a) EllieMurasaki didn’t call you racist in her first response. She just disagreed with you about whether or not the cartoons were racist. At that point, even given your premise, I don’t think you can argue that she had any obligation to explain herself to you.

    4)b) A couple of my opinions:
    - It is sometimes reasonable to tell someone that they’re being racist without explaining to them in detail why or justifying your assertion. If I tell someone they’re being rude or hurtful, I’m not expected to follow up with in-depth analysis on exactly how and why. I could do so, and it would be constructive, but I’m under no obligation to do so.
    - I’d rather live in a world where I might be called out for being a racist when I’m not, than a world where I might unintentionally be doing or saying something racist and never be challenged on it.

    (For context, I live in the UK and I’m ‘White, British’ on census forms. This probably means my perspective on racial issues has a different set of blinkers and biases than those of US posters, and it certainly means that I’m likely to misconstrue stuff here. I’m very happy to have that pointed out. Avicenna.)

  • Anton_Mates

    argue that he’d been deeply wronged because women were not *right then* asking him to have sex. Of course, he took it upon himself to man-splain to women what they naturally want sexually which just *happens* to be sex with no other demands.

    Clearly, he must be supernaturally unattractive. Millions of years of evolution have honed women’s genes and hormones to make them demand non-stop sex with any male-shaped object who wanders by, and then they meet this guy and the laws of biology and chemistry go “nope, you’re a repulsive excuse for a human being, we’re going on holiday for a while” and the whole system just shuts down.

    It’s a pity, really. Were he any other man, he’d experience women as the raging engines of indiscriminate desire that we’re all familiar with. But Aphrodite has chosen him to demonstrate her cruel sense of humor.

  • Ross

    You show me a person who claims “Islam is violent” who is talking about southeast asians, and I will grant you that islamophobia is a kind of bigotry entirely independent from racism.

    Or you could just notice that people who claim to hate islam keep committing hate crimes against Sikhs by accident, and shut the fuck up, because when someone says “Islam is violent”, what they mean is “I’m racist against middle easterners”

  • Ross

    Islam isn’t a race. But islamophobes think it is.