Friday, April 20, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #53 - Part 2

Bigotry visible in reactions to Travon Martin case and John Derbyshire article

I said last week I was going to talk more about bigotry, especially as revealed in the reactions to the Trayvon Martin case and a recent bit of slime spewed out by right-wing jackass - but I repeat myself - right-wing jackass John Derbyshire.

I'll note at the top that, again, I'm looking at the reactions to these events, not so much at the events themselves.

But I have to start by correcting myself. When I first talked about Trayvon Martin, I asked what would have happened if everything had been the same except that the colors of their skin were reversed. "You know the answer to that question," I said.

Apparently, I was wrong:

According to a USA Today/Gallup poll, only 33% of non-Hispanic whites said George Zimmerman would have been arrested had Trayvon Martin been white. Fully half of non-Hispanic whites said it would have made no difference. Admittedly, the poll only asked what if Trayvon Martin had been white, not if in addition Zimmerman was black, but still: What country have you people been living in for the past 50 years? Are you really telling me you have learned nothing in that time?

Maybe you haven't: Roy Edroso, who writes a column about the right-wing blogosphere for The Village Voice (and to who I'm indebted for good number of the following quotes) wrote recently that
[o]ne of the enduring myths of American conservatism is that there's still racism in this country - and it's suffered by white people at the hands of blacks and white liberal race-traitors.
Think he's exaggerating? The American Thinker, a leading right-wing blog, recently said this:
The truth of the matter is that "civil rights" cases are often little more than reverse lynch mobs. ... Certainly it's true that in the past, blacks have been victims of whites.  But today the reality is quite different.
The right wing did everything it could to minimize and (you'll pardon the expression) whitewash the obvious truth of what went down in this case. A lot was made of the fact that George Zimmerman "looks Hispanic" as if that was supposed to make a difference for some who knows what reason. Actually, Zimmerman is half-Hispanic; his mother is white, his father is Hispanic. But so what? And even before that was confirmed, there was all this "he looks Hispanic" as if that was supposed to prove racism was not part of this. I still don't see how, but then again logical argument was never a strong point with the bigots.

It gets weirder. Dan Riehl, a leading right-wing blogger, whined about "the race-based ignorance" of blacks who criticized him for an attempted smear of Trayvon Martin, "when they should be criticizing the media." He was not clear about for what.

Weirder still: Neal Boortz agreed in a post that Trayvon Martin would not have been killed were it not for the color of his skin. He also wrote that he believed that George Zimmerman saw a young black male in his neighborhood at night and just immediately assumed that he was some kind of criminal - and then went on to say that the real problem is not the shooting, it's that "the entire situation is now being used by various race pimps to grab a little publicity while agitating the crowd." Because we all know how dangerous it is to rile up them black folks.

It also gets more vicious; Powerline, one of top-ranked right-wing blogs by traffic, resorted to the "black murder rate" meme - although what that has to do with the murder of an unarmed black teenager, not surprisingly, goes unexplained.

Meanwhile, a captain of the Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Department posted on Facebook that he could "rewrite the book" on our "urban youth" - gee, I wonder who he meant by that - who were "products of their failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents." No racism there, nosiree.

Sometime back I talked about my list of "right-wing rules of debate."  One of them was "When facts are undeniable, change the subject." Another was "Denounce 'the left' using the form 'What about...,' being sure to include words 'hypocrites' and/or 'hypocrisy.'"

This whole business was chock-a-block full of examples. There, for example, were typical and classic right-wing attempts to change the subject. Case in point:, another leading right-wing blog, demanded to know why everyone wasn't focusing on the real issue, which according to them is "incursions into the U.S. by Mexican drug cartels."

Comments on these blogs and others were full of "refutations" of charges of racism along the lines of "what about Marion Berry" (Seriously!) or a link to some account of some crime committed by some black somewhere.

I've already mentioned Dan Riehl's sniffling that real problem is the media. He wasn't the only one. We also had Wayne "Il Duce" LaPierre, Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association,
saying it's all the media's fault for reporting the story.

The media is ignoring crimes against "everyday victims," he declared.
Everyday victims aren't celebrities. They don't draw ratings, don't draw sponsors. But sensational reporting from Florida does.
Now, until that moment I wasn't aware that Trayvon Martin was a celebrity. Still, Il Duce is right: Not every crime case gets national attention. Here's one example:

In February 2005, four white Chicago cops stopped black man named Howard Morgan for going the wrong way on a one-way street. Morgan was an off-duty cop, working as a detective for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

The cops claim that for some never-determined reason, Morgan, outnumbered four to one, just opened fire with his service weapon when the cops tried to arrest him. They responded by shooting him 28 times.

Amazingly, he survived - and was charged with attempted murder of the cops. In his first trial, he was acquitted on three counts, including firing his gun. But the jury deadlocked on a charge of attempted murder, which seems strange to me, as it means that some jurors were saying he was guilty of attempted murder even as they agreed he didn't fire his gun. Even so, he was retried on the deadlocked charges at the end of 2011.

Consider: Not only are we to accept that an individual black man suddenly, inexplicably, started shooting at four cops, but:

- His van was crushed and destroyed without notice or cause without any forensic investigation being done.
- He was never tested for gun residue to see if he actually fired his gun.
- One cop testified that Morgan fired at him and it hit his bullet-proof vest. The State, the prosecution, never produced that vest; it only produced a replica.

Despite that, in January Howard Morgan was convicted on four counts of attempted murder. On April 9, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison - which essentially is a life sentence, as Morgan is 61.

There's a crime case that hasn't made the national news. But I really doubt that's the kind of case that our gun nut Pepe LePew was thinking of.

And we still have John Derbyshire. Just as a quick reminder, he wrote a column about "the talk" he would have with his children about dealing with black people. The advice included:

- Avoid groups of blacks.
- Stay out of black neighborhoods.
- If you're at a public event and the number of blacks swells, leave immediately.
- Do not settle in a city with a black mayor.
- Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress.

And he claimed that the average black person is “much less intelligent” than the average white.

The piece contained links to sources supposedly backing up his claims - but he apparently relied on the adage that people don't follow the links, because if you did, you found that his sources didn't say what he claimed they did. Except, that is, for one that linked to an overt racist and white nationalist.

This was too much even for National Review. They fired him.

And right-wing blogs flipped out. How dare they fire him! The cowards! He's a martyr to truth!

One called the piece "honest" and "brave" and Derbyshire's firing a matter of that all-purpose right-wing bumpersticker "political correctness." Because, as Roy Edroso remarked, this guy could find no racism in the idea that white people should avoid black people because if they don't, they'll be killed.

Another, who goes by the name of Vox Day, called the bucket of raw sewage Derbyshire sloshed all over the Internet a "profile in intellectual courage" and ranted how disgusting it was that some right-wingers rejected his brand of overt racism. He declared that "Racial equality is a failed myth," that segregation is the natural state of affairs, and - get this - we had better start a government program of re-segregation or face the increasing level of violence "that will eventually be required to recreate the historic balances that were originally brought about by the natural processes of group behavior." I fully expected to see some noble incantations of "the white man's burden." Except he probably thinks of that as too liberal.

Understand: I am not talking about the undercurrent of racism that ripples through our society and stains our entire political spectrum from right to left and back again. I'm not talking about the casual racism, the ignorant racism, the racism expressed in the offhand remark made without thinking of what it actually means, the remark you don't realize how hurtful it is until someone points it out to you; I'm not talking about the racism that embarrasses you, that upsets you, when you discover it in yourself, the kind you try to eliminate from yourself once you're aware of it. That is an important issue that deserves discussion - but that’s not what this is about.

This is not about ignorant racists. It's not about casual racists. It's about people who are racist to their very marrow. These don't want to eliminate racism, they embrace it, they celebrate it as if it were, even regard it as, some sort of revealed truth.

We have to realize that in dealing with a significant part of the American right, we are not dealing with rational people. We are dealing with committed bigots.


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