Dear Conservative Bloggers, If I Might Make One Suggestion…

Listen, I’ll admit that we liberals do stupid things and that sometimes the things we think are going to help don’t.  But, just because someone like Clarence Thomas gives voice to ideas that you think back up the notion that liberals do stupid things and something the things we think are going to help don’t, that’s no reason to throw common sense out the window.

So, here’s my suggestion.  If someone, anyone, says something that seems contrary to common sense, would you please consider that either a.) that’s because it is contrary to common sense or b.) that person is misunderstanding the story she or he is telling you.

Consider this post from Nathan Moore.

Moore describes an interview with Clarance Thomas as follows, “In short, it is his view that progressives are more dangerous to blacks than southern racists, that their demand for ideological segregation is worse than the past policies of physical separation.”  More describes this point of view as “Most compelling.”

Sadly, Nathan Moore is not an idiot, so I have no idea what his excuse is.  But I’m dying to hear one.

Does Nathan Moore actually believe that there’s any validity to that notion?

Nathan Moore, I’m calling you out.  Here are my questions for you:

1.  Do you believe black people are unduly influenced by progressives?  What do you think accounts for that?  Are progressives trickier than conservatives?  Can black people not think for themselves?  Or are their minds just a hair weaker than the minds of white people?

2.  Are you aware that southern racists used to kill black people?  Beat them up?  Rape them?  Run them out of towns?  Destroy their property?  Racists right now beat up black people, rape them, and destroy their property.  They still, occasionally kill people.  I’m curious to know, when you hear Thomas say that progressives are worse than that and you find it most compelling, what do you mean?  Are there progressive policies towards blacks that you think are worse than murdering them?

3.  You are aware, are you not, that Judge Thomas is a Supreme Court Justice, which makes him one of the most powerful men on the planet? Doesn’t the fact that he sits on the highest court in the land suggest to you that the idea that progressives are keeping him down is a little weird?

4.  I know it didn’t occur to Thomas, but did it occur to you that Thomas’s grandfather may have said, “The water’s exactly the same.” about drinking from a segregated water fountain as a coping mechanism?  The separate fountains were designed to be a constant, humiliating, reminder of black people’s place in society.  Finding ways to undermine that humiliation were crucial for a person to survive with his soul intact.  Do you really believe that Thomas’s experiences in life–going from one high powered political position to the next–is somehow analogous to what his grandfather went through?

5.  Or are you, perhaps, using “most compelling” to mean “very strange, considering the facts”?

20 thoughts on “Dear Conservative Bloggers, If I Might Make One Suggestion…

  1. So I’ve been reading a LOT of black feminist theory lately and I feel compelled to say, point blank, that white liberals and even white feminists are sometimes guilty of perpetuating racist stereotypes and erasing black voices from conversations and blithely playing in a sandboxes that only recently started letting in people of color, who maybe aren’t too sure they want to play in that sandbox anyway.

    These things are important to talk about, because they do hinder progress and liberals (myself included) have got to own up to them.

    Moore doesn’t talk about these things, though. He just writes “Judge Thomas says liberals are dangerous, heh heh” and picks two quotes that don’t really elaborate on that point in a satisfactory way. So, you’re right, he’s being silly.

  2. Tanglethis, true enough. Haven’t we seen that play out over and over again just in the feminist blogosphere, let alone in broader society?

    But, yeah, I don’t believe Moore is sitting up at night worried about whether he’s perpetuating racist stereotypes or erasing black voices from conversation.

  3. I think on the subject of what policies are more dangerous to blacks than southern racists, and what is worse than the past policies of physical separation, I’d listen to what a 60 year old black guy from Georgia had to say. I’m guessing he knows a thing or two on the subject, compared to say, oh I don’t know, a white 30 year old, ivory tower girl from the midwest.
    Just sayin’.



    Yes, I used girl, instead of woman, just to get the feminists riled. Sue me.

  4. Exador, don’t you have three billion people you should be smooching and grinning at salaciously? With that much on your plate, I’d think you’d have little time to worry about other matters.

    But I eagerly await further elucidation from Justice Thomas about how I am more dangerous to him than the Klan or various Skinhead factions.

    Just think, if true, how much easier war will be when all it takes is for me to sit around shooting off my mouth at our enemies!

  5. I read the entirety of the Thomas interview late last night after following Moore’s link.

    I think Moore oversimplified a few things, but I do believe the points Thomas raises are valid–if some of the generalisation is toned down. He consistently frames his arguments in broad terms of “Blacks” and “Progressives”, which hinders his point.

    However, I do see a lot of progressives making these arguments with anyone they perceive as a member of a group in need of special treatment. Whether it’s blacks or women or gays there seems to be a school of thought in some progressive camps that the solution to problems hundreds of years in the making is This One We Progressives Have Decided Upon. That is the ONLY solution to the problem and no variance is tolerated.

    If you are a black person or a woman or a gay person who doesn’t see things that way, some Progressives are actually offended. That strikes me as both arrogant and pandering–as I said over at MCB.

    Human problems are complex and not easily solved. Adult human beings are generally autonomous and capable of independent thought. That means they don’t always have to agree on a solution, and they certainly don’t have to accept that the solution proffered by one interest group is the best option for their particular problem.

    Then again, this type of thinking isn’t solely a Progressive one. Witness Glen Dean calling me a “MoveOn Member” simply because I’m in favour of now leaving Iraq.

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  7. The point that Thomas made should answer your question Aunt. B. He does in fact believe that “progressives” are overall more harmful to blacks in our country by instituting and enforcing policies such as affirmative action than a bunch of idiot rednecks in a pick up truck. And I’m sure he’s aware of the problems caused by rednecks idiots that you’ve mentioned. There was an interesting article at Pajamas Media today a recent dinner with Thomas, and this story seems quite applicable.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/2007/10/my_dinner_with_clarence_thomas.php

    Five or six years after he arrived on the court, Thomas had lunch with C. Boyden Gray, Bush’s judge-picker, at the University Club. (Back in the 1990s, I would sometimes see him in the club’s well-appointed locker room, watching football or laughing at one of Judge David Sentelle’s hilarious animal-rights jokes.)

    Thomas asked him if he (Thomas) was really the most qualified person for the opening at the Supreme Court. The idea that he might have been nominated because of his race gnawed at him. (Pause for a moment and listen to the pain in his question.)

    “Yes,” said Gray.

    “Why?”

    “Well,” Gray explained. “No one asked what the criteria was.” The president wanted someone who would not bend in office to suit the sirens at the New York Times. Thomas had endured more than 30 hostile hearings when he was chairman of the EEOC and he never backed down. He did what he thought was right and let the chips fall where they may.

  8. Eh, I don’t know… my grandparents are both older than Clarence Thomas, and marched with Dr. King, and have seen firsthand the danger that “a bunch of idiot rednecks in a pick up truck” can do, and they disagree with him. I’d take their word over his any day.

    I mean, there’s something to be said for lived experience, sure, but it’s just silly to reduce it to “well, Clarence Thomas is an old black man, so he has to be right about what’s best for (all) black people.” He speaks for some of us, and not even very many of those.

  9. Maybe we should frame this argument in a completely different way.

    No mention of black or whites. Simply, more dangerous than terrorists, racists, poverty, etc is a government that takes away the rights of its citizens. Whether its the right to free speech, the right to privacy, or the right to earn and keep the wages for your labor.

    The government is dangerous because it seeks to control the population through the guise of helping them. Its disgusting. And scary.

  10. Come on B you agree with this. You’ve had similar experiences I’m sure. We all have. We’d rather deal with someone who is right up front with their ill feelings especially if that person can be rejected as a goofball loser. What really gets under the skin is to deal with the polished, sophisticated, manipulator backstabber. They’ll smile at you, stroke you, then throw you “under the bus.”
    I pulled my kids out of private school over this. I detested what I saw (see) in much of the private school culture. I could not stand to have my kids in that culture. Thomas was opposed because they knew he was against abortion. They dressed up the attempted assasination as concern over his alledged harassment of a woman. That is more detestable than a couple of rednecks yelling the N word as they drive by.

  11. Oh, Christ, Martin, well of course if you’re going to reduce what happened in this country from 1865-1963 as “a couple of rednecks yelling the N word as they drive by…”

    I mean, really, how am I supposed to even respond to that? The only way what you and Justin makes sense is if you complete divorce it from the comparison that Thomas is making–between the progressives he met as an adult and the racists he had to deal with as a child.

    Well, yes, if you disregard that and instead talk about what individuals (even evil individuals) can accomplish vs. what the government can do, the government is stronger than individuals. Or yes, if we ignore what Southern racists actually did during Thomas’s life and instead typify it as the behavior of “goofball losers,” then, yes, people with power can do more damage to someone than “goofball losers.”

    But that’s ahistorical and ludicrous and not what Thomas said.

  12. On a personal level it is very different. Having to drink from different water fountains is an upfront, in-your-face statement. They, Thomas under his grandfather’s guidance and myriad others, dealt with that heroically – “it’s the same water.” Translation: There is nothing we can do about it. We don’t have the power, so we accept the surface reality. However, just because others don’t recognize our dignity doesn’t mean that we accept that we have no dignity. On the contrary, we will not let others define us. We adhere to a deeper reality.
    But, what posture does one assume when others lie about you, scheme, and employ dirty tricks? They let you drink from the same fountain but sabotage you for what you think?
    I don’t think you are a believer but it is interesting to consider that many Christians believe that Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. No, I can see clearly why Thomas feels the way he does. I’d rather deal with people who are open about their disdain than with people who deceive. I think too that Malcolm X had some interesting things to say about this. I’ll have to check.

  13. Black revolutionary Malcolm X called the Republican election candidate a wolf, while the Democratic candidate was a fox: “No matter what, they’ll both eat you.

    If someone can find more of the text have at it.

  14. I may be wrong, but the frequency of violence due to racial hatreds seems to have gone way down over the last 40 years or so. Mag uses her grandparents experiences to refute Thomas, not her own.

    What I’m getting here is… you’re grabbing a worst case scenario from years ago to refute a situation based on the current realities.

    I’m not saying the history of white on black violence isn’t relevant, but it seems to me he’s comparing two current situations and you’re saying he’s wrong by picking a worst case scenario from years ago.

  15. Aunt B., I try to remain civil in your place. But in this thread I am having trouble believing the fucking bullshit I am reading. Jim Crow (like his Northern cousins) can not be reduced to the viscerally tepid image of separate drinking fountains.

    And as you have pointed out, Aunt B., racism in this country was not about ‘a few rednecks in pickup trucks.’ This is the most peabrained, historically myopic horseshit that I’ve seen any of my fellow commenters come up with in a long time.

    Before you folks try to defend Clarence Thomas by buying into the insane notion that some misguided liberal intentions are as deadly and dangerous as the top-to-bottom institutionalized racism that predated the Civil Rights Era (and still lives on in albeit more subtle guises), I suggest you get your heads out of your asses.

    This is Jim Crow. Introduce yourself.

    This is his Northern cousin. Get to know him.

    I don’t know who this two-faced liberal do-gooder is who is worse than Jim Crow and Sundown Towns, but I’d sure like to meet him. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that he’s not much more than a Straw Man.

    Clarence Thomas can talk pretty all he wants, but the guy rode the coattails of people who were putting their lives on the line to get this country to live up to its promise. Like most African-Americans who adults during the Civil Rights Era, Thomas decided to do what his parents had done, and what they had taught him to do– keep his head down instead of standing up and fighting. I don’t knock him for that, because that’s human nature. But to call him or his parents heroic for that is just bullshit. He sits on our Supreme Court today; if all black folks had done it his way, we would still be forbidden from even having our day in any court.

    But let’s move on. Martin Kennedy, you astound me with your ability to spin out non sequitur. So someone who would just as soon shoot me on sight, or rape my daughter, or burn down my house, or deny me equal protection under the law is not as bad as someone who might disagree with me behind my back or (gasp clutches pearls) not value my opinions at all? And somehow that has something to do with Satan?

    If Clarence Thomas thinks he’d be better off back in Jim Crow days, he’s welcome to get in his time machine and go. I think I will stay here in this world that more honest and courageous African-Americans fought for– with the tireless assistance of liberal white do-gooders.

    Sorry for the rant, Aunt B., but honestly.

  16. No, no problem, CS. I’m dumbfounded that folks would take Thomas seriously about this at all. He’s not objective; he believes he got dicked over as hard as a person can get dicked over by liberals.

    Without getting into whether or not he’s justified in believing that, I can say that I can understand why he, believing what he does, feels how he does.

    But he’s wrong.

    And conservatives who treat him like he’s made some kind of objective, impartial point look like dumbasses.

  17. Oh yes, “liberals” (who, me?) “dicked over” (held accountable and asked for explanations for administrative behavior, which he then gave and the world didn’t end because a grown man was asked to explain some debatable actions before being confirmed for a lifetime judicial appointment) “Justice” (one of NINE SUPREME COURT JUDGES) Thomas.

    I can see how one can feel that Clarence Thomas being appointed to the nation’s highest court for life was the dicking of a lifetime. I just don’t agree that he was the one who got screwed.

  18. Although I do agree that the instances of overt racially motivated violence have subsided, I do want to clarify – I invoked my grandparents’ experience specifically to address Exador’s quip about the relative weights of a 60 year old black man’s opinion on the matter versus that of a 30 year old white woman. I was mostly pointing out that a couple of 70 year old black people who lived through a lot of the worst bits and certainly the same general set that Clarence Thomas lived through, well, agree more with the 30 year old white chick.

    And while I think the shift from overt racial violence to less overt violence and/or less overtly violent racism is significant and not to be discounted, this in no way means that racialized violence has disappeared or that the racism that continues today is less pernicious or destructive. Not to mention the fact that in the past few years there has been a decided upswing in the number of racialized crimes and overtly racial incidents (such as the racist parties that have made such a splash at colleges, high schools, and churches nationwide) … it hasn’t gone away, and it seems like it’s returning.

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