Friday, August 27, 2010

27 August: blind lib

Digby has a silly post up in which she suggests, based on a Washington Post story, that anti-Islamic prejudice didn't exist in the US before people started stirring it up recently.

She writes:

The only time anybody ever looked at a Muslim (or Arab looking person) askance was on airplanes. I live in Los Angeles and there are millions of Muslims here and they have been mingling and working and living like any other American since the day of the terrorist attacks. Aside from some brief apprehension in the very early days when the authorities were looking closely at Muslim organizations, things have been remarkably and quite inspirationally normal here in the US especially since we have been involved in two wars with Muslim countries during that time.

So, tell me, what the hell has happened recently that made everyone suspicious of Muslims all of a sudden? We haven't been attacked. There has been no public debate.

The only thing that's happened is that we elected a black president to whom his political enemies conveniently attached the Muslim label. And thus they have extended the hatred for him to hatred of Muslims in general. It's not that these people hate American Muslims. It's that they hate Barack Obama and everything he stands for.

This is ridiculous. First, it sounds like she's saying that only manifestations of prejudice that she's aware of could possibly exist or matter. It's as if racism only exists when it serves Digby's purpose and allows her to score rhetorical points for Team Democratic Party and all the swell people who support it. There are good people and bad people, and the good people luv their Obama. In my comment at Ethan's 6th or 7th I wrote:

Ethan, the WaPo article that Digby quotes minimizes intolerance towards Muslims because it taps into one strain of the Arab-American experience: Assimilation. Arab-Americans (and other Muslims) who can pass for WASP generally try to do so, because it's understood you should do this, and not wear your ethnicity on your sleeve.

In a sense there are two US Muslim communities; one that tries its best to "pass for white" as it were, to reduce the impact of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice, and another which is alienated by the US and has a harder time fitting in. (The former generally comes from a more well-heeled background, so there is also a class frisson operating here.)

But if the WaPo writers just went to the campuses of GWU and Georgetown and the like, they are less likely to see the second group.

Anyway, Digby is less likely to see the 2nd group herself, so that fits.

I hadn't yet read all of the WaPo article when I wrote that, but as it turned out I was partly right, in that the students they talked to were at George Mason U. in tony Fairfax, students at American U. in D.C., as well as the Muslim chaplain of Georgetown. The kids are young people who've presumably lived sheltered lives, even if they may have done some volunteering here and there, so I think they deserve a pass. Digby however, is at least around my age, in her mid-40s or older, so her myopia is harder to excuse. So too, the WaPo writers, who apparently couldn't be bothered to talk to students at a grubby junior college. Don't they have any in D.C.?

Prejudice towards Arabs and Muslims has always been there. Although I don't think my experiences are more relevant than hard data or the news accounts that corroborate my view and that Digby doesn't mention, I note that a man called me a sand nigger to my face in 1995, not so long ago but years before most of us had heard of Bin Laden.

Maybe things are better to some degree in Digby's LA than they are here in the South; I wouldn't know. But I don't believe it has suddenly appeared recently, there or here. One of the problems with people like Glenn Beck and Pam Geller beating racist drums is they make millions of people out there feel as if their otherwise unexpressed darker impulses are legitimate and deserve expression. They enable, even if you can't hold these shit-stirrers liable, and I mean meaningfully liable, in a courtroom. If you could, even someone as wealthy as Rush Limbaugh would suddenly find he couldn't afford the insurance. I'm not saying it should be that way, or that all people are that prejudiced. But the Digbys (Digbies?) of the world speak as if they haven't got a clue, whether this is a result of sincere blindness, or because they think they can will the world to conform to their expectations, or something else.

Today Friday the 27th, is Lyndon Johnson's 102nd birthday. In the 1990s when I worked for the state of Texas, we used to get 8 hours comp time for every 8/27. (we also got 8 hours comp for Robert E. Lee's birthday in January and for Texas Independence Day in March.) I wanted to write something about how complicated LBJ seems to me in comparison with BHO, how he tried to do good at home while he killed thousands of people in Southeast Asia. Obama, by contrast, seems like somebody who would never try to push through a Great Society program, not just because it would hurt his party but also his own future speaking fees. (I don't count so-called healthcare reform as anything more than an oily, budget-busting debacle that will make ever getting to single payer that much harder.)

Back to August 2010- I was glad when Obama spoke out in favor of the Cordoba Center, however briefly he took this stance. Of course if he really wants to support Muslims he could support not killing them. I want to write more about BHO and the Great Society, and the Cordoba Center. I will, soon.

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At August 28, 2010 8:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Alright Jonathan, great post. Dirby may be a talented writer as some claim but I find her to be a party hack, it’s Democrat or Die for the Dilbys of the world. Besides that Dimby strikes me as pompous and conceited. But let us set that aside for the sake of civility. And then there was the gas bag speech she gave about dragging the Democrats kicking and screaming to the left. How’s that workin’ out for you Bigby? Still good? Of course Dikby is a big blog star with a huge following so I doubt she will read my little screed unless she looks up every reference to herself on the internet, which wouldn’t surprise me much.

The hugest problem with Dibby’s statement is that Obama isn’t black, in fact Obama is the whitest guy I know. It doesn’t surprise me that Disby thinks that there wasn’t any racism against Muslims prior to 9/11 because Obama told her that racism has been 95 percent fixed. Oh by the way, check’s in the mail.

The Ditbys of the world love to squawk about racism, it’s their favorite hobby but in the end the Dinbys of the world are quite satisfied with symbolic solutions to problems. Think Obama renaming troops as nurse maids and everyone says the war in Iraq is over. It’s symbolic, and that’s what liberals care about the most, appearances are what matter the most not content. So if Obama is a symbol for the end of racism for liberals then for some liberals racism has been resolved. Like Dizby.

At August 29, 2010 10:44 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Rob, while part of me feels bad picking on Digby because occasionally she has trenchant insights, it's pretty plain to me that supporting the big D team is more important to her than anything else. I think one reason I wrote this post is because implicit in it is the idea that she in California lives among the civilized people and other places and other peoples' experiences are less relevant.

If you pointed this out to her I'm guessing that while she might be initially reluctant to admit she sees So Cal as more civilzed than so-called flyover country, I'll bet she would if pressed.

But I suspect you're right, about the Digbys of the world being satisfied with symbolic solutions to problems.

At August 30, 2010 12:23 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


Oh yeah, I'd agree with your assesment of Digby as a snob, not unusual for liberal elites. Of course a little fame will do that to you. I wouldn't feel bad about picking on Dickby because she deserves it.


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