Althouse | category: racial politics



a blog by Ann Althouse

"The naive view is that the refusal to defend West marks a sea shift in black attitudes toward Jews..."

"... transcending the impulse to defend the indefensible just because it was done by a fellow African American. The cynical view is that if West hadn’t first angered black people with his comment that slavery was 'a choice,' and betrayed black leaders with his decision to put on the MAGA cap, the reaction would have been entirely different. West’s accusations... [suggest that] Kanye West has lost his mind. But that doesn’t explain enough. If West had blamed the Iroquois for his woes, that would be unhinged. But he didn’t. He blamed the Jews, and that’s no accident of mental illness. West found a powerful political explanation for his experience, one that already has a pedigree in the black community—anti-Semitism. Look at his accusations again: Reference to Jewish exploitation is de rigueur in writings about blacks and Jews...."

Writes Elliot Kaufman, in "O Ye of Little Faith: The Anti-Semitism of Kanye West The billionaire star is not just crazy. His Jew-hating politics have a history—and a radical potential" (Commentary). Much more detail at the link. But just a bit more, from the conclusion:

Any confrontation with black anti-Semitism incurs risk for Jews, but it is necessary. First, black anti-Semitism places traditional Jews in physical danger every day on the streets of Brooklyn and not only there.... Second, black anti-Semitism has a unique ability to strike at the heart of liberalism... Jewish success and prominence in America—taken by some as a standing insult—have hinged on liberal principles of merit, equality before the law, pluralism, free expression, and individual rights, as opposed to group privileges. Black anti-Semitism, in denying the legitimacy of Jewish success and prominence, is also an assault on those ruling principles. Its deeper meaning is to call the American system a fraud, a manipulation, and a conspiracy.

To call the American system a fraud, a manipulation, and a conspiracy — that's how to say Critical Race Theory without saying Critical Race Theory.

"Generally, the cruellest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on."

Said Pope Francis, quoted in "‘Racist’ interview with Pope Francis causes fury in Russia/Francis says Chechen and Buryat minorities in Russia’s army more cruel in Ukraine than other soldiers" (The Guardian). 

Alexandra Garmazhapova, the founder of the anti-war Free Buryatia organisation, called the comments “inexcusable and racist.” “I was extremely disappointed to read these racist, inexcusable statements,” said Garmazhapova. “Russia is waging an imperial war started and led by Vladimir Putin, who is by all accounts not a member of an ethnic minority. The pope should condemn him personally, but he decided to sidestep the Russian president.”

“Let’s not forget that the Russian Orthodox church is one of the biggest supporters of the war,” Garmazhapova added, referring to the public backing of the war by the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill....

"[Kanye] West said that following his 'Death Con' comment, Alex Jones’ producer introduced him to [Milo] Yiannopoulos, who in turn suggested West 'bring in' Fuentes."

"The artist said he was 'impressed by Nick' and asked him to join the dinner, stating that 'Trump had no idea who Nick Fuentes was.'"

From "Kanye and His Antisemitic Friends Storm Off Live Right-Wing Podcast After Pushback on Offensive Views/West, Nick Fuentes, and Milo Yiannopoulos abruptly walked off the Timcast IRL podcast after pushback to antisemitic claims" (Rolling Stone).

Here's the show, with Ye and friends exiting after 20 minutes or so: 


I listened to the show for about the first half hour. I don't think I'd ever noticed Pool before, but I think I understood him to say that the show has a format — discussing the news — and West knew that but West just went ahead and took over and seemed to feel entitled to rant from subject to subject however he wanted. Pool seems to have been more deferential than usual but had to break in, not merely to preserve his own concept of the show, but because West was indulging in general statements that Pool knew would be characterized as anti-semitism. Pool wanted West to name particular individuals, not speak of the group in general.

West had one good point: Why are people allowed to speak of "the black vote"? Why is it okay to speak about black people that way?

"In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have labeled a Black candidate as 'different' and 'dangerous' and darkened a white man’s hands as they portrayed him as a criminal...."

"In Wisconsin, where Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is Black, is the Democratic nominee for Senate, a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad targeting him ends by juxtaposing his face with those of three Democratic House members, all of them women of color, and the words 'different' and 'dangerous.' In a mailer sent to several state House districts in New Mexico, the state Republican Party darkened the hands of a barber shown giving a white child a haircut, next to the question, 'Do you want a sex offender cutting your child’s hair?'... Appeals to white fears and resentments are an old strategy in American elections, etched into the country’s political consciousness, with ads like George Bush’s ad using the Black convict Willie Horton against Michael Dukakis in 1988, and Jesse Helms’s 1990 commercial showing a white man’s hands to denounce his Black opponent’s support for 'quotas.'" 

From "With Ads, Imagery and Words, Republicans Inject Race Into Campaigns/Running ads portraying Black candidates as soft on crime — or as 'different' or 'dangerous' — Republicans have shed quiet defenses of such tactics for unabashed defiance" (NYT).

The manipulation of the color of hands is a very specific problem, and I don't like seeing the name of my state mixed up in that accusation. I don't like "In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have... darkened a white man’s hands as they portrayed him as a criminal." That happened in New Mexico but not in Wisconsin.

Yes, there has been been relentless advertising against Mandela Barnes here in Wisconsin, but I haven't seen any photoshopping of the color of hands or other body parts. What I'm seeing — and it's practically the only advertising I'm seeing — is the connection of Mandela Barnes to crime and to policies advocated by the most left-wing Democrats. Yes, you can argue that is inherently racial, and the NYT article also does that, but it's a far cry from this awfulness from New Mexico:

"Sending people to jail for possessing marijuana has upended too many lives.... That’s before you address the clear racial disparities around prosecution and conviction."

"While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionately higher rates."

Said Joe Biden, quoted in "Biden Pardons Thousands Convicted of Marijuana Possession Under Federal Law/The move represents a fundamental change in America’s response to a drug that has been at the center of a clash between culture and policing for more than a half-century" (NYT).

Look at that quote: Did Biden say the government is guilty of illegal race discrimination? 

I don't think he did! The rate of use of marijuana could be the same among the different races, yet if the decision to bring charges is not based on use, but some other factor, then we need more information. If the people charged with possession are the ones caught with quantities of marijuana that imply drug dealing, then the question would be whether "white and Black and brown" people deal marijuana at similar rates.

There's still potential racial disparity that ought to concern us. Who chooses a career in drug dealing?

But Biden isn't talking honestly about any of that. The racial element is thrown in confusingly and for political gain. Where is the serious and effective program of reconfiguring the embedded patterns of racial disparity?

Now, I'm thinking I have 2 kinds of readers: the ones who are saying why should I know or care about the Madison Public Market and...

... the ones who are saying yes, that's the thing that Althouse questioned that one time and Paul Soglin, the Mayor of Madison, instead of engaging respectfully, decided to attack her big time, so she was forced to resort to reason and mockery?

I'm reading "Madison Public Market all but scrapped, as officials make one last plea to alders for funding" (WKOW).

Here's the post I wrote on January 10, 2017:

"On his blog, Mayor Paul Soglin takes on the UW's conservative blogger Ann Althouse for disparaging the city's proposed public market, mocking it as a liberal creation."

"Soglin extols the benefits the public market will begin to deliver and admonishes Althouse to stop portraying everything in Madison as crafted by liberals and reeking of socialism when, in fact, the plans are crafted by liberals reeking in capitalism."

I'm seeing that this morning in the local paper, The Capital Times, with no reporter's name attached to it. It's an embarrassing misreading of my post, but I don't know whether the misreading is by the Cap Times or the Mayor.

Here's the post of mine from a few days ago. It quotes a fundraising consultant who says she discovered that "people got more and more interested in the project" when she told them it was "about inclusiveness, and having a place for a variety of cultures and ethnicities to come together." My mockery was limited to expressing skepticism about whether people really were interested or merely "conscious of the need to look interested... when someone comes at you with talk of 'inclusiveness' and the 'com[ing] together' of 'cultures and ethnicities.'"

Beyond that, I confessed that "I've never been able to understand" the idea of the public market. That's not mocking the market, just admitting I don't get it. And I really don't get the idea that it's a tool for achieving "racial equity and social justice." I didn't say a word about capitalism and socialism. I'm just doing racial critique and suspicious that people are using racial propaganda to grease some project they want.

So let's take a look at Mayor Soglin's blog:
This weekend Ann Althouse mocked — she is good at that — the Madison Public Market....
What did she do? She used mockery...

Soglin says:
There is good reason why the analysis of the Public Market includes a focus on diversity, inclusiveness, and equity.
The bullet-point list that follows gives a visual impression of an argument, but I can't find it. The recent recession "was bad, and is still challenging, for low income families and individuals," these people need "entry-level jobs," entrepreneurship in food business can provide entry level jobs, and "low-income people of all colors and races" can engage in entrepreneurship. What is the argument? We're going to move toward racial equity with some new food service jobs and new potential to start a food-service business?

Speaking of entrepreneurship, you're not doing very well as an idea entrepreneur, Mayor Soglin. I said I didn't understand the idea. I'm open to listening to an argument, but you are not making it. You're just dropping a disjointed list out there as if the points add up. It's a tad underpants-gnomish.

Soglin proceeds to offer information about markets in other cities. The one in Seattle, he tells us, "is expensive and losing its charm as it is now a major tourist destination." Was it sold as helping the poor and minorities?

The one in Philadelphia is said to be good but related to the railway. Here, Soglin reminds us that — because of Scott Walker — we didn't get a train. So no train-related market for us. What that had to do with helping the poor and minorities, I don't know.

Next, Soglin refers to 3 markets in Minneapolis and York, Pennsylvania. The one in York supports vendors who are "almost all white, reflecting the population of the community." Wouldn't that support the prediction that a public market in 78.9% -white Madison would serve the interests of white people? What is the argument for the market as a racial-progress tool?

I don't think Soglin addresses my questions seriously at all. He dings me for mockery, but my mockery is much more serious than his haphazard dumping of factoids with no substance linking them up into a reasonable argument.

Really, he fails to see that I went easy on him by keeping things light with questions, confessions of inability to understand, and invitations to engage. He did not engage.

And check out his last paragraph:
If Althouse can look beyond her own exclusive world, one reeking in privilege, perhaps she will escape the shackles of her rigid assumption that everything in Madison is crafted by liberals, reeking in socialism. At times these plans are crafted by liberals reeking in capitalism.
He said "reeking" three times. I guess he thinks smelliness is funny. Maybe he's into the metaphor that ideology is odor.

Let's take a closer sniff.

The first "reeking" is my exclusive, privileged world. What world is that? Madison, Wisconsin? The University of Wisconsin? The law school?

Next, I'm accused of having a "rigid assumption that everything in Madison is crafted by liberals, reeking in socialism." That doesn't connect to anything in my post. The rigidity must be in his head. He who smelt it dealt it.

He's afraid, I suspect, that he'll be accused of socialism. But I was expressing skepticism about race-based propaganda for things that don't seem to have anything to do with race.

I didn't hit you over the head with this, Mayor Soglin, but your project seems to be offering something white middle-class people like. And one of the things these people like is the feeling that they are not greedily grasping at something they want, but helping the poor and minorities.

And speaking of liberal self-love, why do you think you smell so good when you're trying to do capitalism? Do you think socialism stinks or do you think you stink of socialism and need to douse yourself with capitalism to get something done? I never talked about capitalism and socialism. I talked about race propaganda, who really benefits, and will this thing really work?

Take a metaphorical shower and come back when you're ready to talk substance, sound argument, and reality.

ADDED: Meade points out that Soglin put a link on "reeking in privilege" in that last paragraph, where he's saying I'm in an "exclusive, privileged world." It goes to a post of mine from yesterday, "Did you watch the Golden Globes last night and hear what the entertainment industry people had to say about Trump?" That's a post making fun of the Hollywood elite that partied with Obama on Saturday and celebrated themselves with awards on Sunday. I was saying we weren't watching the Globes but the Packers game. Well, it is a privilege to live in Wisconsin and root for the Packers, but I don't think that's what he could have meant. I do see that my post used the phrase "reeking privilege." I said:
But I find celebrity talk about presidential politics so compulsively avoidable these days. The celebrities all backed Hillary Clinton. They — in their reeking privilege — seemed to have had their hearts set on 8 more years of glamming it up in the White House.
Does that show me in an "exclusive world"? It's a world anyone can enter. All you've got to do is feel sick of celebrities talking about presidential politics. Come on in! Everyone's welcome. Want to watch the Packers game?

"Mr. Walker, I believe you when you say that you’re not smart.... You are the personification of a game being played by Georgia Republicans..."

"... a wager that any Black Republican — in your case, an empty intellectual vessel — can beat the Black Democrat, a man who is thoroughly qualified and utterly decent. Walker is Georgia Republicans’ attempt to undermine the image of Black competence, by making a mockery of Black people, by replacing a thinker with a toady. It seems clear to me that Walker will inflate or deflate his intellect to fit a function. The truth is irrelevant. This is at the heart of Trumpism."

Did Hershel Walker say he's "not that smart"? Yes. He said it in the context of managing expectations for the debate: "I’m this country boy, you know. I’m not that smart. And he’s a preacher. He’s a smart man, wears these nice suits...." 

Like Walker and his Democratic opponent Raphael Warnock, Blow is black. He's endeavoring to make Walker's blackness different from Warnock's blackness. The black Democrat is "thoroughly qualified and utterly decent," but the black Republican is "a mockery of Black people... a toady." Democratic party politics is decent and Republican politics — at least in the Trumpian form — is completely insincere. 

Blow stops slightly short of calling Walker a complete nothing. He's not an "empty vessel," but an "empty intellectual vessel." I don't know what an "intellectual vessel" is, but I think he means Walker is a vessel that is empty of anything intellectual.

But we'll see how Walker debates. It's actually just very conventional to characterize your debate opponent as glib. A "preacher," "a smart man," in "these nice suits" — it all sounds like old-time-y language saying watch out for the fast talker, the con man, and see my limitations as somehow good. I'm humble and honest. 

Walker offered a line for anyone to snap up: "I'm not that smart." That seems like red meat for racists, but I'm only seeing how a black NYT columnist used it.

ADDED: If you google the phrase "I'm Not That Smart" — which I did to see how others were reacting to Walker's line — your results will be dominated by a song — a highlight of the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." It gave me an unexpected and delightful escape from the grim racial politics of the Blow column. So let me just point to the off ramp:

Is there really much expression of "fealty to the ideal of being open to the ideas of others" these days?

I'm reading John McWhorter, in the NYT:
In our moment, we talk a lot about the dismaying degree of partisanship in our nation. We declare fealty to the ideal of being open to the ideas of others. Yet [Mitchell] Jackson exemplifies a sense that when it comes to [Clarence] Thomas, none of this interest in comity applies and that it qualifies as insight to discuss him as a horrid, pathetic figure. 

McWhorter is addressing an Esquire article by Mitchell Jackson, "Looking for Clarence Thomas/He grew up speaking a language of the enslaved on the shores of Pin Point, Georgia. He would become the most powerful Black man in America, using the astonishing power vested in a Supreme Court justice to hold back his own people. Now he sits atop an activist right-wing court poised to undo the progressivism of the past century. What happened?"

McWhorter continues: 

Once again, apparently, there is a single Black way to think, with Black conservatism valuable only as a demonstration of what Black opinion is not supposed to be. It’s worthwhile, one would think, to assume first that people’s intentions are good ones. Writing someone off as monstrous should be a matter of last resort. To go with that immediately makes for good theater, but it’s also a kind of ritualistic hostility.  

"Though [Stacey Abrams] is beloved by Democratic voters, she has lost some ground with Black men, who provided crucial backing in her narrow loss to Mr. Kemp in 2018...."

The NYT reports in "Democrats Fret as Stacey Abrams Struggles in Georgia Governor’s Race She has been trailing her Republican rival, Gov. Brian Kemp, alarming Democrats who have celebrated her as the master strategist behind the state’s Democratic shift":
Ms. Abrams has in recent weeks focused attention on winning support from Black men, voters who have inched toward Republicans during the Trump era. Her campaign has begun a series of conversations with Black men, calling the events “Stacey and the Fellas.”...
“We wouldn’t start talking to white suburban voters just a few weeks before the election,” [said Kevin Harris, a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus who helped lead Mr. Biden’s Georgia campaign operations in 2020].... 

Reading that, you might find it hard to believe she has the support of 85% of black men, but that is what her internal poll showed. But 85% isn't enough, and it's 8 percentage points less than she had when she lost to Kemp in the last election. 

ADDED: In quite a different spot in the article, it says a July poll from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had Abrams winning 80% of black voters. If she's got 85% of black men and 80% of black voters, it seems she has a bigger problem with black women. But these are 2 different polls, and we're not told what the internal poll said about black women.

ALSO: How does a politician get a reputation — that the NYT can report as a fact — of being "beloved"? That strikes me as weird. Or, actually, patronizing.

"[Kanye] West said that following his 'Death Con' comment, Alex Jones’ producer introduced him to [Milo] Yiannopoulos, who in turn suggested West 'bring in' Fuentes.""In states as disparate as Wisconsin and New Mexico, ads have labeled a Black candidate as 'different' and 'dangerous' and darkened a white man’s hands as they portrayed him as a criminal...."Now, I'm thinking I have 2 kinds of readers: the ones who are saying why should I know or care about the Madison Public Market and..."Mr. Walker, I believe you when you say that you’re not smart.... You are the personification of a game being played by Georgia Republicans..."

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