Friday, August 17, 2012

Assistant Quote of the Day

"That really bothered me. You notice he said ‘anger’ twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man... I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization.’ You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear."

-- Touré, discussing Mitt Romney's claim that Barack Obama is running an "angry" campaign

Touré's a smart guy but he's also one of those people whose stock-in-trade is racial issues -- he's kind of trained himself to see racism everywhere he looks. That said, there's a reason that subtly racist comments are called "dog whistles": Since coming right out and calling somebody a nigger would be blatantly indefensible, code words are instead used with the idea that the right people will understand the message. It gets the point across while providing the protection of plausible deniability for the person making the statement, allowing his or her supporters to make the maddening claim that no racism was intended and that those who see it are simply guilty of exploiting the potential of racism for their own political benefit.

Needless to say, the Romney campaign is already howling at NBC News's smug prick of a president, Steve Capus, over the Touré comment, demanding satisfaction. We'll see what happens next.

By the way, Charles Pierce has a really fantastic piece in the new issue of Esquire that examines how President Obama's blackness is something we convinced ourselves didn't really matter -- in fact, we patted ourselves on the back for our willingness to supposedly not care much about his race -- and how it immediately set him up for a certain amount of failure. He wasn't supposed to be a flesh-and-blood politician -- he was supposed to be the savior who absolved us of our culture's racial sins. This is my favorite quote from it -- it's positively brilliant:

"This is... what is perhaps the most noxious idea out there: that Barack Obama 'failed' in his promise to 'bring the country together.' He's now campaigning in such a way that you might believe he actually wants to be president all over again. He is engaging in politics. Mother of mercy, I swear David Brooks is just going to break down and go all to pieces on PBS some evening over the president's betrayal of his role as the country's anodyne black man and, of course, his upcoming role as black martyr to incivility and discord. It is his duty, dammit, to be all the things that people like Brooks wanted him to be so that he could lose, nobly, and then the country could go back to its rightful owners."


idiosynchronic said...

A link to Charlie's excellent column:

Chez said...

Thanks. Didn't realize it was online.

e said...

I don't know. I sometimes wonder if it's a little conspiracy-theory'ish with things like this. Did Romney intentionally use angry as a "coded racial message", or was it a subconscious thing that turns out to be racist, or was it just the word he chose. I don't like Romney, but I have a hard time accepting things like this. Maybe I'm just naive, I don't know.

namron said...


You're naive

Riles said...

I was going to bring this up in the comments on your piece about how America is broken. I can't help but wonder if Obama being black is the real root of the problem. Before 2008 many people never thought a black man could be elected President. Had the typical white male Democrat been elected, I wonder if our country would be at such odds as it is now. (Also, I say "male" because who knows what would have happened had Hilary been elected.)

Would the Republicans really have gone as batshit, would the Americans on the Right have so much hatred, and would they put up with so many lies from their "leaders" in Washington/Fox News, had the President been White?

Eric said...

Riles: yes.

See also: Clinton, William Jefferson.

Although I'll concede that ethnicity may have made a difference in whether the crazy was dialed to 11 instead of being capped at 10, like most other bands' craziness. When they want that little extra kick of crazy, they remind the fans the President is a black guy (not that some of their fans ever forget it to start with).

I confess: I did hope the President would bring people together: not by being a real-world version of the Magical Negro stereotype, but because he's the smartest guy elected to the office in my lifetime and I hoped Reason, combined with eloquence, combined with being the first President who wasn't part of the Boomers' stupid culture war (i.e. Vietnam, Watergate, the political infighting between the Kennedys and the Nixon camp, the Reagan Revolution, Monicagate, etc.) would win out over stupidity and hold back the increase if entropy that's inevitably eroding our civil institutions.

I was naive. Obviously.

After they started spitting on him and making it clear they were happier digging their heads in and feasting on the blood even if it killed the host, I decided I wanted the President to kick their asses. It isn't fomenting division if he does so: we are already divided. I'd hoped we could get a cease-fire, an armistice, a reasonable peace treaty with acceptable terms. Since that's not on the table, fuck Romney and the Republicans and their "bringing America together" fauxtrage.

Sorry. This was meant to be a two-sentence flippant reply and turned into a rant.