jump to navigation

News and activism in this wonderful new media world… July 23, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in US Politics.
trackback

Shirley Sherrod is probably a name most of us have never heard. But she was until recently a federal employee in the US Department of Agriculture, the head of rural development for the agriculture department in Georgia to be precise.

She’s now best known for being dismissed summarily after conservative activist Andrew Breitbart placed a clip on the web of a speech she gave at an NAACP meeting some months ago where she was seen saying as reported by William Saletan in Slate :

Twenty-four years ago, Shirley Sherrod helped Roger Spooner save his farm. She was black, and he was white, but they were more than that. They were two people working together to keep a South Georgia family on its land.

It was 1986. She was working for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. He was a farmer seeking help against foreclosure. “He was trying to show me he was superior to me,” Sherrod told the NAACP audience. “I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farm land, and here I was, faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.” She told the audience that she “took him to a white lawyer” because “I figured if I’d take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him.”

Breitbart pitched the above as proof positive that Sherrod was a racist who could even 24 years later… ‘[manage] her federal duties … through the prism of race and class distinctions.’

His motivation for doing this was to open up yet another front in the on-going war of words between the Tea Party and the NAACP – the latter having suggested (not without reason it has to be said) that some elements in the former are racist.

Sherrod was dismissed by the USDA on foot of this. The NAACP put out a profoundly critical statement about her. Only thing is that the clip ended too quickly and no one bothered to check out the rest of her speech.

Because Sherrod went on to say:

I spent time there in my office calling everybody I could think so to try to see—help me find the lawyer who would handle this. … Working with him made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t. You know—and they could be black, and they could be white. They could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people. … God helped me to see that it’s not just about black people. It’s about poor people. … I’ve come to realize that we have to work together. … We have to get to the point, as Toni Morrison said, [where] race exists, but it doesn’t matter.

Obviously this is an entirely perverse outcome where someone can be dismissed over clearly unfounded allegations. I’m not sure I fully agree with Saletan’s thesis that both left and right are implicated in this to the same degree. It seems to me that Breibart is responsible for a sin of commission, the NAACP for a sin of omission [although one which seriously compounded the situation], but it speaks of a pernicious dynamic where there is no effort to attempt to discover what the truth of the matter is.

In any case it appears Sherrod is coming out fighting, and fair dues to her, with talk of litigation.

I’ve written earlier this week about the partial and arguably partisan leaking of conclusions from an NCC/Forfás report to the media and the use by the media of those conclusions entirely uncontextualised and with no caveats. I won’t attempt to place that in an hierarchy with the Sherrod case. Both indicate an absolute avoidance of serious reflection or analysis.

And being for a second parochial it aligns with something about the CLR that has often been put to me, which is ‘what scoops have you published?’. None that I can think of, thank God. I’ve heard one or two rumours that have turned out to be true, but so – most likely – have most of us. I’ve also had on very rare occasions people pass material on which I’ve tended to avoid reposting because there’s little to be gained in becoming a proxy for someone else’s war.

And to be honest as demonstrated above scoops are prey to gaps in knowledge, too rapid interpretation, too uncritical a release. The other side is that that’s never been the function of the CLR , and one could add it simply doesn’t have and never will have a profile high enough to be able to do that even if the intention was there. I, and I’m pretty sure the other contributors, aren’t that pushed about getting information into the public domain first. More important is the issue of considering what information freely available means.

What’s interesting, and distressing, about the Sherrod example is that clearly no-one thought to do that. Breitbart comes out of this particularly badly because both on a human level, in terms of the impact on Sherrod’s career and reputation but also on a professional level it demonstrates a complete lack of thought or effort to consider whether this was something that would blow up in his face.

He’s now reduced, as Saletan notes, to the following:

Unembarrassed by the exposure of his politically edited video, Breitbart continues to caricature Sherrod. Last night, he posted an excerpt in which she talks sadly about black farmers selling their land. She tells the audience that race is no predictor of virtue, noting that she has worked with honest whites and exploitative blacks. Breitbart’s headline ignores these inconvenient reflections. It shouts: “Shirley Sherrod Laments Land Being Sold to White Man.”

That’s all very well, and no doubt he’ll live to agitate another day, but his own reputation takes a substantial hit – and although clearly previously seen as partisan, now he’s partisan with added extra ineptitude. But what is Breitbart, stuck between activism and news generation/commentary? He’s not a journalist. He’s not quite a commentator (though he was, and for all I know still is, an associate of Matt Drudge). He is some mix of both and more. As indeed are an increasing number of people online.

Which only points to the fact that overall this blurring of the lines between ‘news’ and ‘commentary’ doesn’t demand lower standards of research, but instead higher standards.

Last year there was considerable debate online on matters economic, much more so than this year – although that may be changing. One of the more (or few – depending upon taste) positive aspects of that was that it required a digging into the data, such as it was, and weighing it as best as was possible. What it didn’t, and doesn’t, require are instant conclusions based as much on initial prejudice – from whatever position.

Comments»

1. Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

I think the term is “pundit” !

Whether or not you like Breitbart (as my guess is you don’t!) the new media reflects the lightning speed of the internet age, and reflects too how a lot of people think. People of all shades – the Gaza flotilla incident being a good example.

The point of the Shirley Sherrod story was/is not how racist she may or may not be, but the reaction of her audience to a story that turned out to be part of a “teachable moment” parable. Such parables invite the audience to disapprove of the speaker’s actions in anticipation of the redemptive conclusion – her audience approved.

The story is/was about the NAACP and a reply to their baseless accusation of racism in the Tea Party movement; contra to what you suggest above, there is no evidence for such accusations, and the TP in – I think – Washington State just expelled a subgroup for an inappropriate poster.

The new media, in its desire to be quicker off the mark with news cycles than the mainstream, may occasionally have to eat crow as a result. Personally, I think Sherrod has been unfairly maligned and is due some recompense.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2010

Pundit is the right word, but I think you’re probably incorrect in your interpretation that the audience approved. Saletan is a conservative, and his latest piece on Slate neatly skewers that idea that the audience ‘approved’ as does watching the video of the speech in full which I did this lunchtime.

http://www.slate.com/id/2261552/

As it happens until this I was actually intrigued by Breitbart, loud, obnoxious but often cleverly so, and clearly intelligent and with some sense of humour. The fact he hasn’t apologised to Sherrod is hugely disappointing.

I’m not sure the NAACP isn’t incorrect to see evidence of racism in the Tea Party, not as a whole but amongst some (hopefully a small minority) of those who support it. The example you give is entirely accurate, but it doesn’t undermine my contention that some within the TP banner can reasonably be accused of racism.

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/author-naacp-parody-ousted-tea-party-movement

That doesn’t mean the Tea Party is racist. And obviously the TP itself or elements of it have recognised this and has had to deal with it.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

“your interpretation that the audience approved”

That was Breitbart’s interpretation, not mine, I should have made that clearer – Saletan’s interpretation is better.
I likewise think AB owes her an apology, and in fact so do a lot of people.

“some within the TP banner can reasonably be accused of racism”
absolutely. In any given crowd (particularly one the size of the TPM) there’ll be both actual racists and those with some bigoted tendencies, which – as you say – says little or nothing about the movement itself.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2010

Surely. On a tangent one thing that strikes me about the TP is that the Libertarian Party must be wondering how they didn’t manage to strike the same chord over the years because the messages while by no means identical aren’t absolutely different. What do you think?

Like

Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

That’s a good question and I hadn’t considered it before.
I suspect that the LP doesn’t go down well with “social conservatives”, and they are seen as weak on immigration and foreign policy. The Republican Liberty Caucus is probably much more of a pull to the TP’ers.

Incidentally, the LP have always accused the GOP of pinching their ideas – particularly Reagan. The LP may also consider appealing to patriotism to be a poor show…..

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2010

In a way, and I know I’m stretching here, given how the LP traditionally did well in Alaska, you’d wonder if something of a political osmosis by way of Palin has helped!

Like

Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

I think so!

Like

Mark P - July 23, 2010

The Libertarian Party weren’t blessed by having a black man in the Whitehouse to stir up the fears of ignorant backwoodsmen. So they had to make do with their existing audience of severely empathy-deficient social misfits.

Ron Paul and his dribbling followers, people who are “libertarian” except when it comes to issues like women’s right to choose or gay people getting married, are prominent in the Tea Party movement of course. And Paul, as we all know, is one of those people with a “colourful” history on the issue of race.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

“ignorant backwoodsmen”??

Of course, all opposition to Obama is because of his dark, scary blackness! You honestly think racism plays such a central role in the politics of any country? I can’t share that pessimism and I’d rather be thought naive instead. I would say maybe 1% of it is, those who live in the Ozarks with their basements full of bullets and beans.

Look – any movement that calls for the disbandment of government programmes among a bunch of other things is going to want the end of affirmative action and whatever way you cut it, there are those who see that as an attack on minorities.
To argue that the movement is (inherently) racist, you’d need to prevent evidence that its motives were inspired by some kind of supremacy, and secondly that the constituent number of cranks and nutjobs were significantly higher than in the population at large.

Williams’ group was booted because of his attempt at satirical humour, to which a zero tolerance attitude was (rightly) applied. Only if the TP crystallises into something other than a loosely organised movement can any leadership hope to crack down on individual members.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2010

Of course not all Libertarians take the Ron Paul approach, indeed you could argue that his mix of social conservatism and libertarianism (with a small ‘l’) is atypical compared to what I would consider genuine right libertarianism which has always been very socially liberal – indeed has been a cornerstone of libertarianism of that strand.

I don’t really know what Paul is, perhaps an opportunist, or perhaps what he presents himself as a social conservative small government etc, etc, person. Perhaps both. Perhaps neither. But if he’s representative of this moment in US political history then it’s not as what is classically understood as right libertarianism.

Like

EWI - July 25, 2010

I don’t really know what Paul is

Pure comedy gold? (the son, too)

Like

Mark P - July 23, 2010

Baseless accusation of racism in the Tea Party? Are you some kind of mental defective Tim? Or are you just being entirely disingenuous?

The Tea Party umbrella kicked out the Tea Party Express because it was so wildly, blatantly, over the top in its racism. ie it switched from the dogwhistle to the megaphone. Tea Party events are still littered with racist slogans and pictures and large numbers of the speakers at its events are people with what me might call “colourful” histories on the issue of race.

As for the story “really” being about the audience reaction, that wasn’t the spin initially put it on the odious little race-baiter Breitbart, nor by the Fox News propaganda juggernaut. That’s the fallback position now that it’s been shown that they were pushing an edited tape. And it’s also bullshit.

Either you are a fool, or you think that we are fools.

Like

ejh - July 23, 2010

Are you some kind of mental defective Tim?

Come on Mark, you know better. I’d suggest you ask for this to be removed.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2010

Very fair point ejh.

Like

Dr. X - July 24, 2010

In a world where attitudes to mental illness and mental disability remain defective, using ‘mental defective’ as an insult is indeed unfortunate, and should be avoided.

This, however –

>>>Either you are a fool, or you think that we are fools.

Is bang on target, and should be let stand.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 24, 2010

The only foolish element is believing propaganda in full knowledge that such smears are part and parcel of American politics.
Jim Monaghan (below) points to an article whose author’s sole evidence of ‘racism’ rests on the anectotal observation that “you don’t see faces with dark complexions” at TP rallies. SHE mentions Obama’s race, and America’s shrinking “white population – not as an accusation, but merely in the hope that mentioning those things in an article about the TP will bring guilt by association.

This is a kind-of universal rule but criticise the TP all you want, for the right reasons. You could argue that they’re middle-class, for example. They are racially more representative of the middle class than of the whole of American society. The workers, in the form of the Unions, are staunchly Democratic. So are, since 1935, African Americans.

My biggest concern with them is that the pro-libertarianism is, or may be, a cover for social conservatism. A lot of Republican politicians have suddenly discovered that they’ve been libertarians all along and this smacks of opportunism. Scott Brown was a huge disappointment in that sense. While one can be a libertarian while holding conservative views on abortion and homosexuality, it’s unclear whether such people could resist the urge to impose their ‘morality’ on the rest of the populace, given the chance.

Like

Mark P - July 24, 2010

I have no intention of asking for it to be removed, any more than I have any intention of avoiding the use of terms like “mad”, “stupid”, “imbecilic” or any of the many and varied other terms which reference the mental inadequecies of the halfwit (there’s another one) putting forward malevolently ill-conceived opinions.

The Tea Parties contain a very high proportion of open racists, and an even larger proportion of cretins. Tim’s attempt to paint it as a movement no more or less racist and reactionary than the population as a whole can only be the result of dishonesty or stupidity. My strong suspicion is dishonesty, but there’s always the outside possibility that he is honestly stupid.

The “heroes” of the Tea Party movement include Ron Paul (who for years put out racist newsletters), Tom Tancredo (a professional race-baiter), Andrew Breitbart (another professional race-baiter) and countless less well known but extremely vicious racists. The signs and pictures carried at Tea Parties include a vast collection of racist jibes about witchdoctors, Africans, Kenyans etc. Anyone who seeks to portray that movement as anything other than racist is a liar or an idiot. No exceptions.

Like

ejh - July 24, 2010

Then it’ll stay up, and you’ll have to deal with the consequences in the future when anybody else points out that you thought mental disability was an appropriate thing to use as an insult.

Knowing when to back down and withdraw really shouldn’t be incompatible with being the vanguard of the proletariat.

Like

Mark P - July 24, 2010

Nothing to do with the “vanguard of the proletariat”. The Socialist Party no doubt wouldn’t approve of me referring to a dishonest right winger as a “mental defective”, but fortunately for me it doesn’t police the views of its members on things like that.

I’m not sure what “consequences” you think I’ll have to face for using the term however. Do you have a similar problem with terms like “mad”, “mental”, “imbecilic”, “cretinous” etc?

Like

Tim Johnston - July 24, 2010

At the risk of beating the same old drum, accusing the TP movement of being racist demands more proof than anecdotal claims of racist posters etc, or else you’re just using the intellectual sledgehammer of ‘racism’ to silence opposition – or at least force it to use energy defending itself. I’ve seen some of the objectionable stuff (and not just those posters brought along by infiltrators), but it’s a minority, and you’re talking about a country where 10%+ of people don’t believe Obama was born in the USA.

There’s a huge difference between a movement that is racist and one that has racists involved. Is the Irish Republican movement discredited because some members just wanted to kill Protestants/Brits? (and don’t pretend there weren’t) What about the No campaigns for the Lisbon Treaty? There were “open racists” advocating a No vote and that didn’t force the Socialist Party (among many others) from changing their views.

The TP’s contract with America statement is open for everyone to see. Yes, racists are involved, although it’s hard to see why other than to get a dig at Obama. Incidentally – or maybe centrally – the one person I know who is big into the TP in the US is not white, and it doesn’t require much Googling to find other TP’ers who aren’t either. A demographic like African Americans who make up some 16% of the US population, but 95% of whom voted for Obama, are not going to show up in big numbers at TP rallies.
To say that makes the whole thing racist is just lazy thinking at best.

Oh, and I’m married to a psychiatrist – which I’ve always considered a solid guarantee of my mental health 🙂

Like

EWI - July 25, 2010

At the risk of beating the same old drum, accusing the TP movement of being racist demands more proof than anecdotal claims of racist posters etc, or else you’re just using the intellectual sledgehammer of ‘racism’ to silence opposition

“Tea partiers and other anti-health care activists are known to get rowdy, but today’s protest on Capitol Hill–the day before the House is set to vote on historic health care legislation–went beyond the usual chanting and controversial signs, and veered into ugly bigotry and intimidation.

Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Andre Carson (D-IN) related a particularly jarring encounter with a large crowd of protesters screaming “kill the bill”… and punctuating their chants with the word “nigger.”

Standing next to Lewis, emerging from a Democratic caucus meeting with President Obama, Carson said people in the crowd yelled, “kill the bill and then the N-word” several times, while he and Lewis were exiting the Cannon House office building.”

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/tea-partiers-call-lewis-nr-frank-ft-at-capitol-hill-protest.php

Incidentally – or maybe centrally – the one person I know who is big into the TP in the US is not white, and it doesn’t require much Googling to find other TP’ers who aren’t either. A demographic like African Americans who make up some 16% of the US population, but 95% of whom voted for Obama, are not going to show up in big numbers at TP rallies.

Perhaps you can do some more of your “Googling” to find us Tea Partiers who are Asian, Latino, Muslim or anything other than the white Christian makeup that this group actually is. Maybe someone like this guy:

http://www.oliverwillis.com/2009/11/20/tea-party-movie-so-diverse-same-black-guy-used-in-5-shots/

So, who are we going to believe, you or our lyin’ eyes?

Like

EWI - July 25, 2010

This, too:

“A recent survey directed by University of Washington political scientist Christopher Parker, finds that America is definitely not beyond race. For instance, the Tea Party, the grassroots movement committed to reining in what they perceive as big government, and fiscal irresponsibility, also appear predisposed to intolerance. Approximately 45% of Whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement. Of those, only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 54% of White Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be hardworking, only 44% think them intelligent, and even fewer, 42% of Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be trustworthy. When it comes to gays and lesbians, White Tea Party supporters also hold negative attitudes. Only 36% think gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children, and just 17% are in favor of same-sex marriage.”

http://depts.washington.edu/uwiser/racepolitics.html

Like

Tim Johnston - July 26, 2010

Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and fellow Congressional Black Caucus member Andre Carson (D-IN) related a particularly jarring encounter with a large crowd of protesters screaming “kill the bill”… and punctuating their chants with the word “ni**er.”

Yes, shame he can’t prove it. And he was video’ing the whole thing. This is story for which Breitbart offered $100k for taped proof – or for Lewis to pass a lie detector test. The released video is found here

As for other TP’ers, Michelle Malkin is Asian. As for others I dunno. here’s one though:
http://politicalintegritynow.com/2010/03/a-case-against-racism-in-the-tea-party-movement/

As for the poll data, again, you’re only arguing that the TP’ers are conservatives. Which everybody knows. Inter-ethnic distrust is a feature of all racial groups, and is not the same as racism. Distrust is not hatred. And it depends whether you consider such distrust a social evil or a sad legacy of history which is slowly changing and rectifying itself.

The TP is largely white and Christian. Newsflash: so is America. 75-79% white depending on the source you use.

And the data? Yes, they’re conservatives. However, must US poll data changes depending on what questions you ask. For example, according to an Angus Reid poll, only 32% of Californians believe gay couples should not be legally recognised in any way – BUT, only 32% were for gay marriage, and a further 32% believe in same-sex partnerships. Ergo, a large number of people who reject gay marriage still believe in some kind of legal recognition.

Incidentally, according to the poll you link to, a larger percentage of TP’ers think Asians are hardworking than think whites are (64-49)! stereotypes go both ways…

So, yes it’s a right wing movement. Anybody deny this? But that doesn’t make it racist. Once again, evidence show the TP’ers are true to a middle-class, family-oriented demographic.

Like

2. Budapestkick - July 23, 2010

You have to wonder about a movement that includes Glenn Beck as one of its ideological leaders.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 23, 2010

Ah, but I find that curiously reassuring. Not necessarily fit for purpose is the thought that comes to my mind! 🙂

Like

3. smiffy - July 23, 2010

“The point of the Shirley Sherrod story was/is not how racist she may or may not be, but the reaction of her audience to a story that turned out to be part of a “teachable moment” parable. Such parables invite the audience to disapprove of the speaker’s actions in anticipation of the redemptive conclusion – her audience approved.”

Well, not really. That’s certainly the spin that Breibart is putting on it now, but the way the video was initially framed was as evidence of racial discrimination on the part of a (black, of course) employee of the federal government. Which was a lie.

This isn’t just about ‘new media’. It’s a demonstration of how, in a media environment (online and off-line) which demands an immediate reaction to every headline, the US government, and other bodies – and the ‘old media’, if you like – seem to be incapable to dealing with someone like Breitbart with an utter disregard for truth or, indeed, basic human decency.

A few other minor points …

For an insight into how contorted far-right logic can get on this story, see this piece from Mark Williams, where the blame is placed on the NAACP and the Obama administration, and the name Breitbart isn’t mentioned once: http://www.marktalk.com/blog/?p=10487

Interesting piece on the links between the Sherrords and the civil rights movement (and the Taylor Branch books referred to in the story are well worth a read, but set plenty of time aside): http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/joan_walsh/politics/2010/07/22/charles_sherrod_civil_rights_hero/index.html

“The point of the Shirley Sherrod story was/is not how racist she may or may not be”.

‘May or may not be’? Come on. I hope that’s just a poorly-phrased comment, rather than something a little nastier.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 23, 2010

Is that the same Mark Williams who has just been booted out of the movement? I don’t know why he was blaming the NAACP but Breitbart didn’t fire her, did he? It was the Department she worked for. And since when has the Obama administration listened to Fox News or Andrew Breitbart for advice?
AB did wrong, and he needs to apologise. But the Department that unfairly dismissed her has a bigger problem and may be open to legal action.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2010

They certainly have a bigger problem in systemic terms, but… his actions in what he did were essentially positioned in such a way that her firing was the logical end point of a process that he himself initiated. For him to shift the conceptual terrain at this point simply because he screwed up massively seems unreasonable.

It’s also a clear reflection on the nature of US political discourse that there would be such massive over sensitivity on the part of the administration (and I’d like clearer chapter and verse as to whether Obama was involved in the decision making process leading to her firing) to the charges made by Breitbart.

Some of the commentary from those who support Breitbart (not you I hasten to add) seems a bit self-serving in relation to both those points. Obviously the administration will be careful, given the history, etc, that it is not perceived as sheltering those whose position on race relations could be seen as negative. That Sherrod was anything but negative, was indeed perhaps a fine example of a person helping another small business person shows the dangers of precipitate action on all sides.

Like

4. Jim Monaghan - July 24, 2010

http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ruth-rosen/tea-party-and-new-right-wing-christian-feminism

I think people underestimate this movement. It is truly frightening. It has similarities with Wiemar Germany where people could not come to terms with defeat. While not the same many in America cannot come to terms with the fact that their empire is crumbling at the edges, and ther military is massively overextended.
On the racism issue, I think it is of major importance. Admitably anecdotal when in America I rarely saw mixed race socialisation, a contrast with London where it seemed to be the norm.

Like

Wednesday - July 24, 2010

when in America I rarely saw mixed race socialisation, a contrast with London where it seemed to be the norm.

It’s not really fair to compare “America” with “London”. Mixed race socialisation is quite common in the larger US cities which are analogous to London. (In fact I’ve commented to many people that it’s one of the things I miss about the US when I’m in Ireland.) And I’d imagine there are smaller cities and towns in Britain where it’s not so common.

Like

Budapestkick - July 24, 2010

Agreed, though having said that there is a surprisingly low rate of mixed marriages in the U.S.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2010

Having worked in both London and NY for extended periods of time [less so in NY] I’d have to say my experience of the former was perhaps more positive than the latter in terms of mixed race socialisation. Purely anecdotal of course, but it seemed to me that it was more difficult in NY than London. Not that it didn’t happen, but people seemed freighted with certain expectations of what wasn’t done there than in London.

Like

5. Budapestkick - July 24, 2010

I think that Libertarians have a slight tendency these tea party people. When I first heard about it I thought they really just loved a bit of earl gray. But Jim is much closer to the truth. This is just the natural continuation of the pro-war movement and other reactionary tendencies brought together under a new umbrella. It isn’t inheritly racist, but it is inherently reactionary as evidenced by the numbers of teabaggers who think Obama isn’t from America or the posters comparing him to Hitler: https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/the-slippery-slope/ .
These people were turning up armed to town hall meetings and claiming the NHS has death panels. They are far closer to fascism than libertarianism. Indeed, considering the greatest attack on US civil liberties in recent years was the patriot act which these fellas would have been all for. Incidentally, I haven’t seen many black tea party people. Though anyone from East Baltimore who saw a bunch of people demanding lower taxes and more cuts would rightly be disgusted.

Like

Budapestkick - July 24, 2010

*slight tendency to idealise

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2010

It’s funny, you’d wonder what Murray Rothbard would make of them…

And on another tangent they’re not even Reagan Democrats.

Like

6. Wednesday - July 24, 2010

WBS, I’ve also lived in both New York and London and my anecdotal experience is the opposite of yours – my social group was much more racially mixed in the former than in the latter. I’m actually struggling to recall more than three non-whites who would regularly turn up in the pubs I drank in in London (and this would be Camden and environs, not some leafy suburb) and two of them were Asian-Americans… who, incidentally, told me they experienced much more overt racism in London than they had in the US. Whereas the only really non-mixed social scenes I ever encountered in big US cities were in the Irish pubs.

I’m intrigued by your statement about “what wasn’t done” in New York. Can you elaborate?

Like

Mark P - July 24, 2010

The rate of racially mixed marriages is much higher in the UK than in the US, for what that’s worth. Really much higher.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

Wednesday, what I found on all levels was an aversion amongst groups of people from different ethnic backgrounds to mix, let alone to go out as couples. Now this was the late 1980s and tension was pretty high in NY given various media driven ‘high profile’ instances of racial tension.

Whereas a year later in the UK I found an entirely different, much much more relaxed environment where it was commonplace for people to hang out or hook up together.

Again, it’s entirely anecdotal on my part, and who knows, it’s more than likely I was unfortunate. But, at the time in the US I was working for a publishers who on paper at least (pun unintended) was a ‘liberal’ workplace, etc, etc and my broader friendships beyond work were in either the studenty/arty sort of area.

Like

7. Wednesday - July 25, 2010

When you say “aversion” though what do you mean? “No, I don’t want to go out with that person because they’re a different race”? Or just an absence of race-mixing?

It was the early to mid 90s that I lived in New York and, as I said, I found no such aversion. This was at the time of the OJ Simpson case and the Dinkins-Giuliani mayoral race so there were certainly racial tensions around. Before that I lived in DC at the time of the Rodney King case. None of these seemed to have much impact on race mixing within my social group – which in both cases centred around my employment which, at the time, was in very multi-ethnic retail shops. It was finding some of these old friends on Facebook recently that prompted one of my comments to friends about how different Ireland is from the US in this regard.

A couple people have mentioned interracial marriage rates in the US vs Britain. Does anyone have links to these studies? I’m curious about them on a number of levels.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

Where I worked it was clear from general discussion that it was ‘frowned’ upon informally. i.e. you might want to go out with someone but it isn’t going to happen. Now I want to stress this was entirely informally but it was pervasive and people from various different groups held those views or bought into them.
I was also for a while in a small retail outlet where perish the thought.

None of this is to say that people weren’t friendly, they were and people got on well without race intruding on a day to day minute to minute level, but there was a level of separation that struck me as distinctly different to the situation in London when I went there and worked there a couple of years later, and granted all this was only my experience and entirely subjective.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 25, 2010

It’s very high in Canada, Wednesday. But as in any country, only certain groups mix. It seems to be a matter of personal preference, but caucasian men and Asian/Chinese women seems to be the dominant combination.

Like

8. Wednesday - July 25, 2010

Where I worked it was clear from general discussion that it was ‘frowned’ upon informally. i.e. you might want to go out with someone but it isn’t going to happen.

Wow. That is so far from my experience I’m having trouble even conceptualising it. In my own circles it happened all the time. (In my own family too – a number of my cousins there are in mixed marriages.) There was a recognition, certainly, that interracial dating was frowned on by some people but I can’t actually recall anyone I knew admitting to holding those views. They wouldn’t have been very popular if they did. What sort of background(s) were the people you worked with from?

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

Fairly ordinary working class/lower middle class NYC… black, white, hispanic.

Incidentally, it was never ever couched as ‘they’re black/white/hispanic therefore they’re inferior’ although one white colleague of mine strayed close to that territory one day while we were having lunch, more ‘they’re black/white/hispanic and therefore they keep to their own in relationships and if people don’t there’s trouble, etc’. By the way I wasn’t single at the time there so I was in the position of spectator rather than protagonist.

Like

Wednesday - July 25, 2010

Well, that’s the same demographic I was working with so all I can think of is that either you were working with some special people or else things must have changed dramatically within the space of a few years. Although I would have been in either DC or San Francisco at the time you were in NY and mixing was already common in those places… and there certainly wasn’t any “trouble” over it. I’m speaking as both spectator and protagonist BTW 😀

Still hoping for a link to one of those studies…

Like

Tim Johnston - July 25, 2010
WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

It’s hard to know Wednesday. As I said it’s purely anecdotal and I’ve no doubt that attitudes generally have changed in the meantime. Could be a one off, I can’t tell.

Like

WorldbyStorm - July 25, 2010

Thanks Tim… that’s pretty interesting. Now we need the US stats.

Like

9. Paul Doran - July 25, 2010

Tim on reading this “You honestly think racism plays such a central role in the politics of any country” If you believe this then you so very wrong of course within the US racism is such a huge factor not only in the US but here and in most Countries, people are so blantly racist, you see everyday in Dublin. The US is extremely racist.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 25, 2010

Yes. That’s why they’ve just elected a black president. Those racist scum. In fact only one other country I can think of elected a minority as president – Fujimori in Peru. Racists are a minority in every country, unless you subscribe to the so-called “progressive” views on the subject, in which case it depends on your definition.

Like

10. Paul Doran - July 25, 2010

Tim.I think to call anyone sum is a bit over the top.Anyway the election of BO was different, he brought out a huge black and a largely young vote and the people who hand’t voted before, not sure if they will give him the same vote next time based on his performances so far.

Like

Tim Johnston - July 25, 2010

yes, but I was being facetious 😦
It was different, and I think a lot of people saw his election as a seminal moment whereafter racial differences were to be a thing of the past. comparable to the South African referendum in ’93 where 70% voted to end apartheid.
But, you’re right too, the party’s over and his approval ratings are not good.

Like

11. WorldbyStorm - July 26, 2010

Just to add to Tim’s points. Left Right and Centre, by KCRW, which I often name check here had a lengthy discussion on this topic at the weekend. Their assessment from figures as diverse as Ariana Huffington, Robert Scheer and Tony Blankley was that the Tea Party is not racist as a whole and that it is a very specific conservative response to the economic issues assailing the US. Huffington and Scheer don’t buy into the TP response at all, indeed they’d be sharply negative about it and indeed about some of the rhetoric emanating from it, but it’s important not to make more of it than it actually is, or to ascribe to it failings it doesn’t have.

Re Libertarians, I don’t consider Paul’s Ron or Jr. libertarian in my understanding of the term. There are vastly more credible and, if I can use the word, honorable individuals out there who are economically and socially libertarian. It’s not my politics, or at least only half my politics, but I think it’s equally important to recognise that.

As for libertarianism and the left, I think it’s possible to conjure up contexts where non-statist leftist libertarianism could work quite well in concert with right libertarianism through mutualism, syndicates, etc. Though it might require some work. 🙂

Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: