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« Feminism, Part 2: 2008 | Main | Republicans and Gays: WTF? »

September 16, 2008


Thank you very much for breaking your own rule about "forwarding" posts.

I have tried to refrain from hysterical pronouncements regarding my own feelings about, what I consider to be, the cynical and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential nominee and, instead, concentrate upon the reasons why I would be quite proud to have the Obamas as the first family and the Bidens as their cohosts for, at least, 4 years.

Mr. Wise's reframing of the debate dovetails very nicely with my own perspective and makes me feel slightly more sane. An echo of the truth in what he has to say was heard on NPR's KPCC 89.3 FM last week when a white male journalist and a black female journalist interviewed 7 white and 7 black citizens regarding the degree to which they felt that "race" was an influence on how they intended to vote.

To a person, the white people said no it wasn't, but they were voting for the white guy, coincidentally. The black people were voting for the mixed race candidate, coincidentally.

However, the thing that I was most startled--not surprised, mind you--to hear from a white male was his assertion that he felt he had had no special advantage in life because he was white (Please insert stunned silence here).

I don't think that there is a day that has gone by, since I was a child, that I didn't think that my "whiteness" had, by definition, endowed me with an easier row to hoe in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. But, perhaps, that's just me.

Thanks again for passing along this reframing of the matter at hand.

I agree with you Danny that the notion of "white privilege" is complicated by class. I don't know what its like in LA, but I do know that since I moved to Baltimore I have seen a fair share of very low socio-economic status white people who would shrug at the concept of privilege and white being in the same sentence. But yes, I would have to agree that once you attain the threshold class level, you get a lot of free passes for being white. It's something that I often caution Latino and African American parents about in my educational outreach work. I mean, why lie about it? George Bush can snort cocaine and still become president of the United States but the likelihood of a minority kid being able to get away with that are slim to none.

I saw this letter all over the progressive blogs and I love it. I think it spells out a whole lot of what is wrong with this campaign and this country.

One can read a letter like this and think, wow,it's true, I am a beneficiary of white privilege (even if I'm a Jew, which complicates the equation.) I can actually become a better person for being aware, for keeping this idea in my consciousess. Maybe I can even make a positive difference in my life, the lives of people around me, and around the world. Yes, it's a good thing.

One thing not explicitly addressed in the letter: If you are a radical religious fundamentalist extremist like SP and you are white you get praised for family values. If you are not white you are labeled a terrorist.

I want to thank you for printing this letter. I had not seen it before - although I guess you'd call me one of those liberals. I have written quite a bit in my blog concerning my political beliefs. In fact, my daughter, as well as others have asked me to give it a rest, and I think I will do that, because I am aware that I am becoming part of the problem of preaching too loudly and to long, until no one is listening any more. I too am pretty sick of hearing both sides. We need to step back, stop blaming and criticizing, and instead, start just discussing solutions.
I think Mr. Wise has expressed very well a great deal of what I wish I had said.
Again, thank you.

Along the same lines...I was listening to Bill O'Reilly's radio show today (yep, I like to hear all sides), and a white, "blue collar" worker from Pennsylvania called in to say that he didn't like Obama because "someone who went to Harvard, can't understand anything about me, but since Sarah Palin's husband, is a blue collar worker, she can understand someone like me". I never in my life would have thought I'd actually hear someone say that obtaining a college education would make you undesirable as president of the United States. The world has turned upside down!

If you're going to break your own rule, that's a good piece to break it with.

I, too, have been uncomfortable with some of the angry, extremist reactions from the Left, and hey! I'm way, way over there on the Left, myself! My shrink and I had a long discussion (on my dime, I guess, but what the hell?) about the ugly turn this campaign has taken, and the frustration a lot of us feel about Obama not taking off the gloves.

There are a multitude of reasons for it, probably not least of which is white people can get away with conducting a vitriolic campaign, where if a black person did, he'd just be viewed as a "dangerous element." Only in much, much worse terms.

But I like to think that the reason is one outlined in this piece from The American Prospect that Adam Lisagor (aka Lonelysandwich) points to.

It basically says that the way Obama is choosing to run his campaign is an extension of his belief in the need for change, and that to stoop to crap tactics would run counter to what he stood for.

And that O'Reilly quote is some scary shite. I have a similar weakness for dipping into right-wingnut radio, and heard more flapjack nonsense on Dr. Laura about Obama being pro- sex ed in kindergarten. It was less overt, but in my book, that's just as bad.

My largely poor inner-city neighborhood has been over-run with very young Obama supporters in recent days who seem shocked that people registered Democrat support McCain/Palin in such large numbers. I have commented on this in a few private emails recently only to remind people of the hold traditional conservative values have for many working class white voters. I'm not at all surprised by the comment made on the radio show by the PA blue collar worker. Walk into any bar in my Pittsburgh neighborhood today or twenty years ago when Reagan was President and you'd hear the same thing. The wealthy here seem to love this and have told me they are gladdened by what even they term McCain's "cynical ploy" of getting Palin for a running mate.

As for these liberal hysterical anti-Palin postings many of us have been getting, the last one forwarded to me (by my brother!) was so offensive that I don't even feel comfortable describing it and plan to remain largely silent on this issue from now on.

Thanks for bringing this essay to our attention. Thought-provoking.

I read that somewhere else and thought it was pretty right on. I don't know if you've read this yet:, but it's pretty funny. I don't write about politics on my blog much, because I don't think I could do it without sounding shrill and angry.

Don't worry. I'm told that since the early nineteen hundreds, the incumbent party is never re-elected when the market is down for September of the election year. I think we're pretty much guaranteed a down September at this point.

The generalizations are the problem. And aren't generalizations about race really racism, or close to it? Senator Obama has more wealth, power, and privilege than 99% of whites.

To address one of Wise's specific points: " and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action."

As long as any place has affirmative-action policies that promote people due to skin color rather than real qualifications, people in the favored skin color group will be tarred by such accusations.

This is why I love your blog.

I have to admit that I'm not comfortable with Wise's piece. Call me "canadiense", but these attacks in general seem so low to me... and extreme, which really creeps me out! The scary thing is not the generalizations in his piece, but the personal attacks. I'm not comfortable with that in my politics.

P.S. Wilco at the BSB this year. Will you be coming up to Mountain View??

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