In Which I Respond to My Critics

Listen, do I think it’s "right" for the CBC to not include Cohen?  No.  But Cohen, by publicly hinting that he might join and giving what seems like an incredibly reasonable reason for wanting to join–he represents a majority black district–and getting shot down, raised every reasonable and nuanced point there is to raise.  Does the CBC exist to serve the needs of black Congress members or folks with large black constituencies?  Before now, the CBC had been letting those two goals remain conveniently conflated.  Now, they’ve had to articulate that the first priority of the CBC is aiding black members of Congress.

If there are voters who assumed that the first priority of the CBC was to band together to pool resources to best serve their black constituents, now they know that that’s not the case and they can do what they will with that information.

Cohen’s points are proven.  What’s the most important point he’s proven to his voters back home?  That they are not losing out on an important source of power by electing a white man (who can’t join the CBC) instead of a black man (who can) because the CBC is not about empowering their black constituencies, but about hording power for themselves.

Here are my problems with y’all’s "outrage."

1.  People are assholes.  Running around acting shocked because black people also act like assholes makes it seem like you hold black people to a higher standard of conduct than you do for the rest of us, like there’s something terribly wrong with black people acting like the rest of us.

2.  Yes, discrimination is wrong, but we still live in a country that, for the most part, has a system in place the benefits white people, men especially.  If a police officer pulls you over, you don’t immediately have to assume you’re going to jail.  Did either of your parents teach you the importance of never even attracting the attention of a cop?  How many times have you been told that, if you’re assaulted, you must immediately tell others and report it immediately to the police and immediately go to the hospital and immediately make yourself available to whoever has questions for you, because you have to get people to believe that something happened to you for you to even begin to get justice for it?  And if so, did you ever have any doubt that, if you showed them bruises and scratches, you’d be believed?  Have you ever reported an assault against you only to have the police open an investigation into you and your friends?

Yes, shitty things happen to white people.  And the farther down the social ladder you get, the shittier the shit you’re forced to eat is, but there’s not that same weight of the whole system against you all the time.  It’s just not.

And that’s the difference.  Black people can and do discriminate against white people (because black people are people and people are assholes) but black people cannot, for the most part, bring the whole weight of the system down on white people whereas, when a white person gets it in his head to be a fucker to a black person?  The threat of the weight of the whole system is there and that is very different.

20 thoughts on “In Which I Respond to My Critics

  1. Dangit! I must have missed the white people meeting where they gave out the keys to the whole weight of the system.But then again, I have Asian kids, so maybe they called the meeting when I was out of town.Did I just use sarcasm? wow. weird.I think I’m just distracted by my own personal debate about whether I should create a post about boobs.

  2. I’m sick of this double standard crap. It is not right, in any way to discriminate against ANYONE!!!! Please rethink your thought processes, it seems that you have a double standard stuck in your head when it comes to race. What if men decided to have a MEN’S caucus, how would you feel. If this man is representing african americans, he should be part of the process, I just don’t get how anyone can see it any other way

  3. I like Cohen, but this wasn’t necessary, and seemed like a stunt. It’s called the CBC, which, for Michelle’s benefit, I’ll spell out: Congressional BLACK Caucus. I’d like to think that the purpose of keeping it all black is because, well, it probably helps to be black to intelligently discuss what it means to be a Black Congressman. I just look at those expressing yet more "outrage" over this, and it confirms what I thought about them in the first place.

  4. We spend lots of time either lying about our attitudes about discrimination or equivocating on the term so that we can beg the question about when it’s bad and when it’s not, so that we can refuse to talk openly about racism and sexism … If you mean by "discrimination" making irrelevant distinctions that have invidious consequences, then, yes, all discrimination is wrong. But that’s because a judgment about their being invidious is assumed. But, we make relevant distinctions all that time and treat people according to those distinctions in ways that are sometimes not even a little controversial. What title do we give that, if not discrimination? How many of us think it is wrong that we have a law that protects certain parking spots for people with handicaps? Who disagrees that insurance should cover birth control pills even though men won’t ever be prescribed any? Should we not discriminate against children or the illiterate when issuing drivers’ licenses? Why do dry cleaners often charge by the gender of the shirt rather than the material?What I mean is that the discussion needs to be about evidence for what differences make a difference, when and why. When you start with a premise "all discrimination is wrong" you are either denying all the examples we have of acceptable discrimination or you are assuming that this is a case of unacceptable discrimination without being willing to make an argument for why. Do Black Congressmen need a separate organization? Did they before but no longer? What would they lose by not having it? What does Cohen lose by not being allowed in? Are those two things comparable?

  5. Michelle,Aunt B has a tendancy, that when a white man acts like a jerk, he is indicative of the system, but if a black man acts like a jerk, well…"there are black jerks, just like white people and we shouldn’t judge blacks on a harsher standard."

  6. I believe the outrage is based on hypocrisy, since every member of the CBC’s bread and butter is based on preaching about the horrors of discrimination and the need for equality inclusivity between the races. I’m sure they each have their favorite "how the black man wasn’t allowed in that club and isn’t that wrong" story.

  7. Exador, that’s right, Aunt B has a tendancy to assume that lots of people are jerks and that we shouldn’t assume more than that. So when white people act like jerks it’s because they are human. So, when black people act like jerks it’s because they are human. How is that unfair? If you want to break up the CBC because some of them behave like jerks, then shouldn’t you also argue that we should just break up the entire Congree since some of them act like jerks? The point is that you need a better – more relevant – argument for breaking up the CBC than "they’re being jerks."

  8. so, if I understand this correctly, we can excuse ‘shitty things’ because ‘shitty things’ are happening to to the people engaging in the ‘shitty things’ we’re excusing?And, slartibartfast, you are the man who is keeping me down.And you’re spot on about the CBC’s purpose, btw.

  9. Is it wrong for a "support group" (e.g. Cancer Survivors or AA) to require that members actually have the affliction/ailment/issue for which the support group was formed? It seems clear to me that the label "discrimination" certainly fits, but it’s not necessarily bad.If this kind of discrimination is OK, then I guess it’s OK for the KKK to discriminate in their membership policies, as long as they admit that they are a "support group" for people with a problem.

  10. Good lord, when Exador, SayUncle, and Slartibartfast are against you, who can be for you?And why is it always the folks with guns who disagree with me? Do y’all have any idea how unnerving that is?Why can’t I get folks known for throwing brownies at people to disagree with me?Anyway, Slartibartfast, you didn’t answer my question. How afraid of the police are you? How afraid of the police will you teach your children to be? And yet, would you begrudge any person of color from teaching their children to be extremely cautious around the police? Why or why not?Michelle, if men wanted to have a men’s caucus in Congress just to have some kind of he-man women-hater’s club, of course I would find it hilarious and ludicrous. However, it’s very easy for me to see that there might be circumstances under which a men’s caucus made sense.Let’s say that male congress members become aware that prostate cancer kills more people than breast cancer (I’m not saying it does; I’m just speaking hypothetically) but that the funding for breast cancer research far, far surpasses the funding for prostate cancer. Do you see why men might need to say "Hey, we don’t regularly vote as a group and that’s hurting our efforts to pass legislation that helps men. Let’s form a caucus to further our common interests."?If that or something similar were the case, why would I oppose that? There are some issues that are peculiar to men and reasons why it might be easier for them to meet privately to discuss how best to advance an agenda to respond to those issues.And if it kept women out?It’d annoy me, but their loss.Same with the CBC.I don’t think they’re right to deny Cohen membership. But I think there’s something deeply hilarious about all these folks who are running around practically fainting in shock over the idea that the CBC would dare to do so. The response seems to me to be dramatically out of proportion to the "outrage," especially when one considers that it benefited Cohen a great deal.SayUncle, I don’t think we need to "excuse" anything. I think we need to figure out how to realistically assess the actual threat some behaviors pose. To say that the CBC discriminating against Cohen–which again, I think was stupid of them, all things considered–is just as wrong as a group of white people discriminating against a black person is just not true. I’m not saying that it’s not wrong; it’s just not equivalent. And I’m saying that the moral indignation white folks are showing over this incident is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by some congress members disrespecting another congress member.And I find that to be wrong-headed and hilarious.

  11. I think one key thing here is leading by example. If you’re calling for an end to racial discrimination, you shouldn’t be participating in it yourself. Justfied or not, it is racial discrimination. I can understand the need for a group like that to make them feel like they are among friends. But they might have been better off having it informal and calling it ‘us folks that meet up for dinner once a week and talk about our life as black concgress-persons". Then they could just not ask Cohan to come around. Formalizing it means they become a lot more accountable.I hadn’t thought of your very good point about the CBC making it clear why they exist.

  12. Talk about much ado about nothing. I think it was gracious and considerate that he offered to join. It was understandable that they didn’t want him. And it was gracious and considerate that he didn’t then push the issue. I don’t see Cohen OR the CBC making nearly as big a deal about this as everyone else.

  13. Now I understand why the White Cat is ruling our household. The Black Cat and Brown Tabby Cat are currently caucusing to plan his overthrow.The same patterns repeat themselves over and over, just the players change.

  14. Betsy, my freckled queen, if it makes you feel any better, I have plenty of guns, I just don’t think they are worth discussing at length. Speaking of length…nah, never mind, that observation just frosts the gun nuts.

  15. Holy shit!From now on, I want everyone to refer to me as "Betsy, My Freckled Queen." Dang!And to throw brownies at me when they’re annoyed with me, but that’s not nearly as important as y’all calling me "My Freckled Queen."

  16. You are all missing the point. The real question here is if the members of the CBC are circumsized or uncircumsized, and how the feel about it and their parent’s choice regarding such.Oh wait. That’s another bruhaha on another post.B, I shall refer to you as "Betsy, My Freckled Sister". The men should call you Queen, as that is their rightful place…in submission to your authority.

  17. The Professor makes the most cogent point. It’s similar to what I told AC in one of his posts. Everyone is under the assumption that the CBC’s refusal is wrong because it’s wrong. It isn’t so clear cut.POC in this country sometimes prefer to talk amongst themselves about certain things. Sometimes it’s simply to be comfortable enough to be frank about themselves (guess what, we don’t talk about The Man all the time) and how the respective communities are functioning, and what those who are a part of the community (a part of the community based on those immutable factors) can do. Call it a learned response, yet some still flinch at the idea of "outsiders" coming in to offer suggestions about how to run our affairs.I’m not sure how many who have not experienced being a POC in this country and grown up a boomer or Gen X’r can understand that.The CBC is not simply a place for millionaires to learn how to line their pockets (the millionaires are all in the Senate, anyway). Nor is it some kind of advocacy group like the NAACP. It is just like any other CMO, execpt that is distinct in its origins and reason for being. Mack said it well, it helps to be Black to discuss what it means to be a Black MoC.With those things in mind, it helps to understand that Cohen’s non-admittance/I didn’t try to get in/whatever is not simply about his race.

  18. Aw, come now! You’re going to tell me y’all aren’t sitting around every day talking about the boob freckle amongst yourselves? I don’t believe it.

  19. Note to liberals: While the racial discrimination against black men by cops is an issue, the murder and violence of black men by usually other black men is a much much larger issue.

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