Site Meter

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2 More Things Re: the Gates Thing, Then I'll Shut Up

1. I was reminded how friggin' racist too much of the blogosphere is when I read the comments to an opinion piece on this whole ordeal (I tracked down the link: 90% of the reaction was how racist the columnist was for taking a position defending Gates and Obama, and how Obama had shown his true racist colors, and calling gates a "black ass," etc. I knew there would be plenty of that, but my jaw was dropping to read 8 or ten of them in a row, with no retort for column inch after column inch. And this was on Yahoo, I believe, not FOX News or some virtual rag like that. We got some work to do, people (as if you didn't already know that).

2. I forgot the second. Oh, yeah, it was this: I wonder if the inordinate amount of attention this affair got can be explained thusly: we are so damned afraid to broach the subject of race (except for with the trusted buddies whom we know will agree with us on everything we have to say) that all this crap get bottled up in us, and when the rare opportunity comes where it's deemed acceptable to comment publicly on the subject, it's like a release valve, and a bunch of hot air comes pouring out. One wise columnist (I think it was in Time magazine) recounted the other supposed turning points in our recent "national discourse" on race (I probably got them out of order): Rodney King beating, L.A. riots, O.J. arrest, O.J. trial and verdict, Clinton's Council-to solve-this-here racial problem-once-and-for-all, Katrina, Jena, a couple of high profile NYC cop incidents, Obama and Wright, and the Philadelphia "More Perfect Union" speech, etc. Each time, there is high-minded talk of how THIS will dispel the white denial, or force us to come together, or prompt us to open the avenues of communications across the racial divide, etc., etc., etc. But the "national discourse" remains disjointed, and mostly talking past one another without bothering to take the role of listener.

The earlier Obama thing actually serves as exhibit A to my point. Throughout his campaign, Obama deftly deflected any focus on race until endless loops of an angry black voice growling "God DAMN America" forced him to take on the subject head-on....for maybe 30 minutes. Having delivered a very good speech on the matter, he then avoided the subject again, like the plague, the rest of the way and, behold, he got elected! Lesson: it is good and right to avoid the subject at all costs until circumstances demand it be addressed, and then it is expedient to dirty your hands with it quickly and get it over with, then move on like everything is fixed.

Obama's "stupidly" comment is Exhibit B: fail to choose your words carefully, I you'll pay, big time. Obama, the black man who never lost his cool, who had a seemingly inhuman ability to filter everything and respond calmly, even to the most outrageous accusations and falsehoods, was caught, one time, expressing, from the gut, how he REALLY felt and what he REALLY thought about a racial incident that no doubt peeled the scab off of real incidents from a painful past and ever-possible present. And what happened? He caught hell for it: everybody was talking about this, and getting distracted from healthcare reform and all that other mundane stuff. His popularity among whites plummeted, in no time flat, off a cliff. Lesson: don't drop the filter, or you'll get nailed.

OK, I'll REALLY shut up now.

No comments: