Archive for July 2010
For crying out loud, if you are going to call somebody a Nazi with a sign, make sure you’ve got your swastika facing the right direction.
This man wants to equate America with Nazi Germany. Instead, by using the left-facing swastika, he’s saying America is a Buddhist nation.
As a Buddhist myself (on the rare days when I’m not calling for the grinding our our enemies into dust – which isn’t very Buddhist), I can live with this.
He plays Tel Aviv. He plays Tucson. He plays for Rush Limbaugh.
“We are all very pleased to be playing in Arizona. I have read that some of the artists won’t come here. They are f***wits! Let’s face it: I still play in California, and as a gay man I have no legal rights whatsoever. So what’s the (expletive) with these people?”
Rock on Elton, rock on!
So says Peter Wehner in Commentary Magazine. But at least Wehner gets mentioned.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, THE NEW YORKER: As a side note, does anyone know what prompted Michael Barone to go insane?
MATT DUSS: LEDEEN.
SPENCER ACKERMAN: Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the f*** up, as with most bullies.
JOE KLEIN, TIME: Pete Wehner…these sort of things always end badly.
ERIC ALTERMAN, AUTHOR, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA: F****** Nascar retards…
Personally I like Iowahawk’s take on these professional “journalists” that act like
middle schoolers. Strike that; my middle schooler acts with more maturity than these troglodytes.
KEITH OLBERMANN: anybody here ever have sex???
JONATHAN CHAIT: u mean with a girl?
KEITH OLBERMANN: ya I guess so
MATTHEW YGLESIAS: ewwwwww
ERIC ALTERMAN: I french kissed Rachel Goldman at Trotsky youth camp in 6th grade
CHRIS HAYES: 4 reals??? did you get boob???
MATTHEW YGLESIAS: ewwwwww
Watching the NAACP and white liberals falling over themselves as they attempt to portray those of us opposed to the Obama administration as “racists” has provided plenty of fodder for thought over the past few months. But with each cry of “racism” that is hurled against the tea partiers, conservatives, independents, Republicans, middle class Americans, white people, Asians, I’ve come to realize that the charges say less about those on the receiving end of the epithet than it does for those who throw it.
Take for a moment, the NAACP - an organization that uses a term in its title that if I used it would immediately tar me as “racist”. Given its moniker I had thought the organization dead for decades; when is the last time you heard the term “colored people” used for African-Americans? But I guess NAAAA - the National Association for the Advancement of African-Americans – would sound too negative. “Ben Jealous – president of NAAAA…”
By virtue of his birth and the genetic lottery preceding it, President Barack Obama has the same color of skin as Ben Jealous and the majority of the rank and file of the NAACP. That’s about all he has in common with them. His father was Kenyan, his mother a middle class white woman, and he grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii where he was raised by his white grandmother. Yet because he has the same skin color, the NAACP has embraced Obama as one of their own.
In contrast I grew up in the American Midwest. Like most white American kids over the past seventy years, I grew up influenced by African-American culture. In my era it was the music of Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash and the Gap Band, alongside the baseball greats Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron and my boyhood hero, St. Louis Cardinal base stealing king Lou Brock. Like many of all colors Martin Luther King jr and Nelson Mandela inspired me – and still do today whether the NAACP thinks I’m racist or not.
Years later I lived in Africa, spending a lot of time in Kenya and living among the people of Tanzania. The Tanzanians taught me their language and an intense love of African music, especially soukous. The Kenyans showed me that racism exists among Africans as they identified more with their tribe than they did their nationality. The fact was later driven home by the Hutu refugee camps in Tanzania that I saw soon after the Rwandan genocide had finished. The proper term for such racism is tribalism, but the outcome – hatred, fear, death and destruction – is the same.
But none of this matters to the NAACP and the white liberal elite; I am a racist because I voted against Barack Obama and I continue to oppose his policies.
To the white liberals I become a scapegoat for the shame they bear because of their wealth. Many of them come from families that contained what we would call racists today but a century ago were simply called the well-off. So to atone for their guilt at being born white, they support liberal causes including the election of an inexperienced Chicago pol to the top office of their country. It’s a cheap way to appease their guilty consciences without giving up their expensive cars, homes and designer clothing (all made from sustainable materials of course). Condemning tea party supporters like me is just part of that appeasement that proves their intellectual superiority over others.
To the NAACP I’m just a descendant of klansmen. They don’t see me. They see a hooded figure stuffed with straw from the field of hate they have tended. They don’t hear me. All they hear is the words they imagine me saying. I’m not a person: I’m their puppet but they don’t realize they are holding the strings.
It doesn’t matter to them that half of my family were Slavs who arrived destitute at Ellis Island (after having paid all their money to the Austro-Hungarian empire to be allowed to emigrate) decades after the Civil War, or the fact that a quarter of my family were Germans who supported abolition, and that the last sliver were Irish who themselves were discriminated against. INNA isn’t just a meaningless acronym to those of us of Irish descent. They don’t consider that I grew up in a household where both parents worked, and that as a teen I was shocked to see their income tax return and learn that we were just barely above the poverty line.
No, my skin’s the wrong color and because of that everything I say or do is suspect. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are that I oppose the president: I’m a racist.
Barack Obama became a blank screen for Obama’s supporters to project all their hopes and dreams; as a white American opposed to Obama I have become a blank screen where they project all their fears and hatred.
When it comes right down to it, who does the average black person have more in common with – Barack Obama or me? If he or she answers “Barack Obama” because they share the same skin color, who is the one making judgments based on skin color? Who treasures skin color above all else? If Barack Obama was instead Barry O’Bama, Irish-American from Schaumburg, would their support be as ironclad? If not, why not?
They call me and the Tea Party I support racists, but who are the true bigots?
It was almost a hundred degrees outside when the call from the nursing home came. We had been running errands in the heat that had piled up all week and needed to be run before the next week had begun, and had no sooner shut the front door behind us when the phone rang. The Wife took the call on the porch to get a better signal, and I wasn’t surprised when she came back inside and said that she had to go up the mountain.
Mr. Hendrick* was a retired Naval officer and a chemical engineer. As the cancer spread through his body he and his wife decided to move South so that he could face his final days surrounded by the beauty and serenity of the Blue Ridge mountains.
But Death isn’t a romantic, and when his days dwindled Mr. Hendrick changed his mind: He wanted to live after all and wanted all means necessary employed to save him. The mountains might be a peaceful place to die, but it doesn’t have the machinery, medicines and skills necessary to battle cancer in what is always a losing war. So his doctors sent him to the teaching hospitals of Winston-Salem, an hour and a half away, that had the means necessary to help him in his battle.
Once there, Mr. Hendrick did another about-face; he refused treatment. One by one Mr. Hendrick dismissed the specialists that had been assigned to assist him. Having nothing left to offer him, and with his wife unable to care for him as she began battling her own losing war against dementia, he was sent to a nursing home near his home in the mountains.
My wife, his family doctor, met him there. His son drove down from the North to try to talk some sense into his father. A doctor by trade, he was familiar with his father’s prognosis and wanted him to die with the dignity that he deserved. But Mr. Hendrick refused his counsel to be made a DNR. “I will not have that purple sticker next to my name,” he fumed. Mr. Hendrick directed the staff to make all attempts to save him in the event of a crisis, and the staff had no choice but to follow his wishes.
The next day everything changed. Evidently his son had been successful and Mr. Hendrick decided to accept the inevitable. He was placed on hospice, and my wife hoped that he would enjoy his final days in comfort.
Then the phone call came this afternoon. The son had left and returned to the North. Mr. Hendrick’s breathing was becoming more rapid and his oxygen sats were falling; but his wife was already packing up his things. “How long is this going to take?” she asked the nurses.
My wife loves the elderly, and they love her. She loves listening to them whereas it seems most are too busy to do so. This makes it a challenge to practice medicine when insurance companies expect you spend only a handful of minutes treating a patient and more unpaid time writing up in detail what was done.
“No one deserves to die like this,” she said. “I have to go back up the mountain.”
She thought I was annoyed by her decision, but it didn’t bother me in the least. A man dies only once, and he deserves to do it with dignity and care. I kissed her goodbye and sent her on her way.
*Not his real name and details of his identity were kept from me to protect a dying man’s privacy.
Update: Mr. Hendrick passed peacefully the following morning.
I’m glad I played a role in getting this guy elected.
Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white. The need for inclusiveness in our society is undeniable and irreversible, both in our markets and in our communities. Our government should be in the business of enabling opportunity for all, not in picking winners. It can do so by ensuring that artificial distinctions such as race do not determine outcomes.
I find it interesting that he mentions that conservative writers tend to be loners. I think all writers tend to be loners; it’s just that liberals want to “fit-in” to some crowd whereas conservatives are suspicious of any group that would have them as members.
And hurt rural America in the process. Since I often drive by one of the dealerships closed by the administration, I’ve wondered how many local jobs were lost in that small town.
Who cares? They were Republicans, the Obama administration would say.
About ten years ago I attended a town hall meeting to discuss a plan for a proposed building in my neighborhood. A Chabad Lubavitch rabbi had proposed building a large community center on a relatively small plot of land zoned for residential housing. I opposed the plan because the building was too big; it required a boat-load of variances from the county board and used land owned by the power company. It was out of character for the neighborhood, too big for the tiny congregation, and set a bad precedent for future development in the long-established neighborhood.
There were other issues that were more important in my view. The Lubavitchers walked to services on streets without sidewalks – one where people regularly sped past them at 55 mph or more. There was no pedestrian crosswalk across that road, and my heart had leapt in my chest once when a teenage Lubavitcher darted out in front of my car only to be pulled back to the side of the road by his friend at the last moment.
The meeting was packed with Jews from all over Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I spoke up at the meeting and voiced my opposition to the plan – and was pounced upon by the crowd. “Anti-Semite!” one person yelled. Others cheered the comment. An elderly woman – a Holocaust survivor it later turned out – tearfully screamed at me, calling me a skinhead and Nazi. It was hard to say anything, and in the end I was shouted down. After the meeting my wife and I were accosted by several of the audience asking us why we hated Jews so much.
By opposing this single rabbi’s plan I became a Jew hater in the eyes of the audience. I mentioned the meeting to my college roommate, a Jewish biker now living in Connecticut. He knew my feelings about Israel and Judaism, and how stupid the slurs sounded against me – a gentile who supported Israel and Zionism stronger than many Jews. “There’s enough real antisemitism in this world that we don’t need to go around making it up,” he said.
This incident came to mind after the NAACP meeting condemning Tea Party protests as racist. As a Tea Party supporter I saw the NAACP making the same mistake the Lubavitch supporters made 10 years ago: their minds had become so focused on a single issue that they became twisted and closed.
In the case of the Lubavitchers, they lost the ability to see that opposition on this one issue – the building of the community center – did not mean anything more. Instead of seeing us as friends, neighbors or even neutral parties prepared to live and let live, they made us out to be Nazis and Jew haters. By doing this they turned 2000 Brandywine Hundred, Delaware in their minds into 1943 Warsaw, Poland.
Similarly, the NAACP has taken criticism of a president who happens to be African-American to mean only one thing: racism. It’s not the health care bill that I oppose, it’s racism. It’s not his kowtowing to our enemies and treating our allies like dirt, it’s racism. It’s not his spending borrowed money like a kid with his daddy’s credit card, it’s racism. The attitude of the NAACP is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Brown v. Board of Education, and the struggle of Americans of all colors to fight racism all haven’t happened; it’s still Mississippi 1960.
The NAACP is like the dimwitted carpenter with a hammer who sees everything as a nail. Not only is this attitude wrong, but it’s counterproductive and in the end encourages the very racism that the NAACP is supposed to be against. By treating everyone as racist the NAACP acts racist itself. It becomes what it has fought for so long: an institution of hate and bigotry. By demonizing those who disagreed with them on one issue as racists – the worst possible epithet one can use in the United States aside from child molester – they turned allies and friends on other issues into enemies. Using the “race card” on a non-racial issue risks losing support from the very same people in the future on topics that are truly racist.
The rabbi won and within six years the Chabad Lubavitch community center was completed. But the fight damaged the relationship between the Lubavitchers and the overall community. The supporters from New Jersey and Pennsylvania had gone home, and the Lubavitchers were left to live amongst the very people they had called Nazis and bigots. The congregation was even more isolated from its neighbors than it had been before.
It probably hasn’t been a problem for the rabbi yet, but there will come a time in the future when he will need his neighbors help – when there true antisemitism rears its head – and he won’t get it. Neighbors have long memories and won’t forget the sting of being heckled in public for a very long time. Besides, when everyone is a Nazi or a Klansman it’s difficult to spot the real swastika or burning cross, and easier to ignore when one appears.
Over the past few weeks I have had the luxury of having a few workmen in to fix up our house here in rural North Carolina. I’ve listened to them talk, and spoken to them at length about religion and politics. Nearly all are Baptist; one is even a preacher who as I write is firing up a congregation at a revival in Georgia. Even though I don’t share their religious beliefs, I do respect them. “You don’t drink. You don’t smoke. You don’t gamble and you don’t chase women. You’d make a good Baptist,” one told me. I took that as a compliment.
Most of the men I’ve hired are middle aged or older. I’ve paid them by the job or by the hour, and none make what most in my field of IT would consider a decent hourly rate especially when they are covering their own taxes and insurance. And all of them are way more conservative than me, social conservatives who know their Bible better than I know anything.
A constant thread of their conversations was how bad the economy was. In their lifetimes they had seen manufacturing which had come to the South for its cheap labor chase even cheaper labor abroad. Tobacco once employed hundreds of thousands from planting, processing, and packaging but today employs only a fraction of that due to a confluence of factors: a more health conscious population, increased mechanization, and cheaper labor abroad.
Nothing has taken the place of these lost jobs. To survive these men refined their skills and become home improvement contractors. Each also has a side business – preaching and in the case of another, rehabbing and selling homes that sell for under $100k. Nevertheless they are much more exposed to the winds of the economy and the whims of government than most.
They are especially bitter when it comes to illegal immigration. Mexicans have flooded into North Carolina and driven down wages for skilled and semi-skilled workers. They are constantly underbid by contractors employing illegals at a fraction of the going hourly rate.
Such men have always been pressured by immigration. 120 years ago my great-grandfather left Bohemia and came to the United States as part of a large migration of skilled and unskilled laborers from central Europe that didn’t end until immigration laws were passed after World War I. But a century ago there were more opportunities in manufacturing, construction and other trades that absorbed the influx of foreign workers. Add in the American dream that saw education as the ladder to a better standard of living and the desire of immigrants to assimilate (my great-grandfather learned English at the age of 35 and refused to speak German at home) and the relations between immigrants and citizens could have been much worse.
Contrast that with today when the ladder of education seems only to lead to debt; one of the contractors employs his son for $12 an hour who graduated college but can’t find work. He’s swimming in student loan debt and doesn’t know how he’ll stay afloat. The Mexican immigrants haven’t even tried to assimilate. They shop at their own tiendas that dot the area, and even attend their own Catholic churches – the only outposts of papacy in this land of 31 flavors of Baptists. Their children attend the same public schools, but the politically correct dogma of the educators only encourages their isolation from the other students. My son regularly reports on the racial tensions that he experiences in middle school: latino girls prohibited by their peers from talking to black or white boys. Teachers afraid to appear racist by demanding the same out of their Hispanic students as the others, condemning them to the poverty of low expectations.
Meanwhile the government only makes things worse for them. They see it as completely detached and unconcerned with their struggle. It passes laws and creates regulations that cost money for them to comply with. It spends profligately and they know deep down that they and their children will be left with the bill. It bails out banks, yet they and their customers can’t get loans. It does nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigrants who underbid them and lower their wages.
These men are in a vise – between the failure of the American dream and its expectations of a brighter future for their children on one side, and a government that seems hell bent on reducing them to penury on the other. They aren’t angry; they are enraged. These great- grandsons of confederate soldiers speak rebellion not in whispers but in loud, firm voices that would sound all-too familiar to their forebears. They aren’t traitors; they see their government as betraying them and their country, not the other way around. Seeing what has happened here in North Carolina, it’s difficult to disagree with them.
The Leftist elites might brand them racists and call them hillbillies and rednecks, but those epithets only expose the ignorance of those that hurl them. These men aren’t stupid even though they didn’t attend Ivy League universities. In fact given how poorly the Ivy League elite is governing, these men have a better understanding of economics than the elite does. After all, they live in the economy; they eat, sleep, and breathe it every day. How many University of Chicago professors, K Street lobbyists, or career politicians do that? They aren’t racist: this is former Klan country, with an emphasis on “former.” If this economy isn’t enough to drive men out in their bedsheets, then the Klan is truly dead. But don’t kid yourself. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn’t cleanse these men’s hearts of prejudice, their religion and upbringings did.
I’m not sure where this anger is heading. I’m hoping that it will be channeled into the elections in the Fall, but I’m wondering it that will be enough given how unresponsive the government is to the needs of all of its citizens – not just these men. The events of the past ten years have caused me to question my faith in America, especially when it comes to curtailing the power of a federal government determined to manage all aspects of our daily lives. It just may be time to don a gray hat and fly the stars and bars myself.