FLIGHT FROM THE PLANET OF R-BOMBS! Why might someone ban the bomb? Digby seemed to ask: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11, 2010
The meeting got a little intense: Why did Robert Gibbs make his recent complaints about the professional left? We have no way of knowing, of course. But we do have an idea.
Many complaints from the left about the White House have made perfect sense. But other complaints have been loud and dumb, and perhaps even somewhat self-serving. A Gibbs assistant apparently said that Gibbs was referring to cable TV commentators (Chuck Todds paraphrase); this made Digby think of Dylan Ratigan (click here). For ourselves, we thought of the increasingly blustery Ed Schultz, who has bragged about his recent trip to the White House, where things got a little intense.
It started last Thursday. In standard pseudo-conservative fashion, Schultz started by letting us know that hes just a guy from the Midwestthat hes not a big media type. After that, we got his account of his trip to the White Houseand a lot of insinuations that the White House is a big gang of liars:
Here at THE HOWLER, we like Schultzs average person approach to politics and policy. But Schultz has been getting louder and louder on his very loud cable program, which opens each night with a loud account about what has Big Eds hot buttons firing. On Friday night, his various buttons were still firing about that trip to the White House, where things had gotten a little intense. His insinuations and charges continued:
Schultz went on to say that the government numbers are fuzzy math at best, using the same evocative term he had used the previous night.
Like Schultz, we simply dont know how good those government numbers are. Neither does the obsequious Rice. But Schultz has been getting louder and louder on his very loud cable show, and he has essentially been calling the White House a big gang of liars in various ways, on a string of issues. When loud cable hosts behave in this fashion, they may be serving the public interest. Or they may be serving themselves.
The loathsome channel on which Schultz appears has broadcast a lot of damaging noise in the course of its gruesome history. The channel has done a great deal of harm to the nation, and to the world. Today, Schultz keeps getting louder and louderand more insultingabout the White Houses honesty, often in areas where he pretty much cant know the truth. Increasingly, he sounds like Sean Hannity in his attacksand his buttons are constantly firing. He never starts his show by explaining what has his intellect engaged.
Who did Robert Gibbs have in mind when he smacked the professional left? We dont know, but things did get a little intense in a recent meeting with a loud professional talker.
Numbers please: In her post, Digby linked to Kevin Drum (click here); each of the bloggers cited some numbers. We think those numbers are quite important. Tomorrow, lets get them right.
A bit of background: Digby referred to this column by Howard Kurtz, from the August 2 Washington Post. In our view, its a ridiculous stretch to say that Kurtz finds equivalence between Breitbart and Sherrod in the piece. But highly aggressive tribal players will always read the world this wayand they will leap to defend any utterance by players within the tribe, even as they soften and rework the things which were actually said. Is Breitbart a racist? For ourselves, wed have to say we dont know, although we think he has gotten off very light in his disgraceful editing incidents. But just for the record (remember that?), Sherrod went well beyond that claim in her remarks about Breitbart. For ourselves, we dont think the things she said constitute the worlds biggest dealbut we do think her claims would be hard to defend. We see no problem with the (very limited) way Kurtz raised this question in this column, and on Reliable Sources one week earlier. He didnt have to mention Sherrods remarks, but there was nothing wrong when he did.
That said, Digby seemed to ponder the existential meaning of the R-bomb in that final paragraph. Do some people believe that racism doesnt exist? Is that why they never drop R-bombs? Do some people subscribe to some philosophical view in which we can never know if someone else is a racist unless they come right out and admit it? In a world where so many white liberals spend so much time tossing R-bombs around, those struck us as good, helpful questions. Since we ourselves would be reluctant to announce that Person A, B or C is a racist, we thought we might take the occasion to explain why that is.
Digby imagines two possible reasons for this type of reluctance. She doesnt include the principal reasons we ourselves would advance. These reasons also explain why we rarely dropped any S-or-M bombs (Sexist! Misogynist!) during the long, lonely years when we complained about Keith Olbermanns endless journeys to The Planet of the Sluts, even as moral exemplars like Digby and Walsh kept their traps politely shut about this superstars conduct.
(More on this episode Friday.)
Why are we reluctant to drop the R-bomb? Wed list three principal reasons. First, liberals have tossed this bomb around with so little discrimination that its rather hard at this point to say what the term even means. Its hard to make Bernie Goldberg right about somethingbut, by God, we liberals have managed to do it! The analysts groaned as they watched that evenings Factor, because big blowhard Goldberg was basically right in his basic claim:
Mr. O advanced the most mismatched pair of topics in cable news history. In the process, he asked one of the biggest dopes in modern press criticism to discuss race and racism. (For our first critique of Goldbergs first book, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/10/02. Many others followed.) But so many white liberals have made such a joke of discussions of race that even Goldberg was right this day! (Though we wouldnt be inclined to include the CBC in that assessment.) The charge of racism has been rendered virtually meaningless, he said. Too many white liberals have trivialized the word. Wed have to say thats largely correct. This would be the first major reason why we ourselves would be reluctant to announce that Person Y is a racist.
What exactly is a racist these days? The term once had some fairly fixed meanings, and the term was used with some care. Dr. King rarely dropped R-bombs on his adversariesand he had stone-cold race-haters chasing him around, including some who murdered children and used dogs to chase kids through the streets. This helps explain why he was the last centurys greatest achiever. (By the way: Do you notice how we used our words to describe the fallen souls who chased Dr. King aroundto explain what they did?) Today, the bomb is tossed with joyous abandon, part of a tribal gong-show. Back in January 2008, Richard Cohen even got batted around as a racist for calling Obama a fog of a man. (Fog is dark, as you may recall. Yes, this foolishness really occurred; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/8/08.) When silly children drop bombs with such abandon, does anyone have the slightest idea what the term even means at this time? Second question: Would anyone with an ounce of sense want to sound like such children?
Is Andrew Breitbart a racist? It isnt that we cant enter his mind to see what we might find in that place. The problem predates that, in a way Digby didnt consider: At this point, we arent even sure what the question means. We arent real sure what were being asked. We cant define our search.
In part, we are reluctant to call Person A, B or C racist because the term has been stripped of its meaninggenerally, by roving gangs of lazy white liberals in love with their own moral greatness. This, of course, creates other problems. This accusation is the most serious charge in American culture. In part for that reason, this accusation tends to be a discussion-stopper. Unless its used with great care, its the bomb which drives rival tribes, and their near associates, to other sides of a great divide.
When Digby challenged Rush Limbaugh this week, she didnt drop an R-bomb. Instead, she used her words to describe, quite accurately, something Limbaugh actually does in his pseudo-discussions of race (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/10/10). In this way, a liberal can create a discussion which might attract decent people from outside the tribe. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality, Dr. King once said. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
But then, Dr. King always affirmed the potential of human goodness, of inner lightan affirmation we modern white liberals joyously toss away. We love it when our adversaries fail. We glory in their fallen state, whether its real or imagined.
Why do we avoid the R-bomb? Why did we avoid the S-bomb, even as high-minded liberals let KO have his way on The Planet of the Sluts? Were not sure what the charge even means at this pointand we dont want to sound like the silly children who throw that bomb all over the land, thus toying with the history of race. We dont like to use the bombs which end debate, and the attempt to grope toward the light.
That said, we liberals do love dropping our bombsincluding our X-bombs and our N-bombs! Tomorrow, lets examine the way a silly child promoted The Planet of Fear.