Wednesday, December 3, 2014
America: The 98-Pound Weakling on Race
Charlie Pierce gets to the heart of what ails our country: The inability for some people to have an adult conversation about race. By some people I mean those whose brains have matured beyond 10 years; by some people I do not mean people who believe our first blah President Obama is a racist and the worst divider of the races in the history of this country. No, and I don't mean those addle-brained adolescents who comment on conservative blogs that habitually link to racist photo-shopped images of the First Family as gorillas and/or images of black men raping women.
Those people are unreachable, permanently brain damaged from a lifetime of willful ignorance and because the stars in their intellectual firmament are people like Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Ann Coulter. You can't reason with people who learn about anything from that group of treacherous worms.
Charlie Pierce writing in Esquire:
"The country doesn't want a conversation on race, especially one led by the blah president whose simple legitimacy has been under assault since the moment his hand came off the Bible. The country doesn't want a conversation on race unless it is sure from the outset that white people will "win" it. The idea that the president could jump-start this conversation, let alone "give voice" to black people's complaints about (largely) white policemen who are killing them, and not be greeted with the shitstorm sharknado of all time, is so fantastical that it makes me wonder whether I even read Milbank correctly. Jon Stewart put together a helpful survey of the shitstorm already raging on the right, and that's while the president is only stroking his chin on the topic. If the president actually did what Milbank is suggesting, any conversation on race that might begin would quickly be drowned out by the din of the thousands of tiny hammers that fashion the ideas in Sean Hannity's skull. We're not having a serious conversation about race because, as a nation, we're a bunch of chickenshits who aren't interested in being citizens ourselves, let alone extending that title to people whom we consider less than we are.
There's one thing about the president that took me a long time to understand, and it has been invaluable to my thinking as the Leadership (!)tm trope has gained what now appears to be irresistible momentum. (Apparently, my man Chuck Todd has produced a book-like object about the president in which said trope is its central theme. I hope to be reading it shortly.) It didn't become clear to me until I heard the president accept his nomination for the second time. He referred to "the hard and necessary work of self-government." Put simply, in so many areas, the president is putting the responsibility of governing -- of Leadership (!)tm -- on us, which is where it should be. We shouldn't need a president to start a conversation on race. We should start it ourselves, in thousands of town halls and church basements and radio talk-shows. But, as a self-governing democracy, we are too cowardly to do it honestly, because it rubs up against the comfortable myth of American exceptionalism. We should make him do things, not the other way around. That's been the fundamental challenge of him from the outset. He's left the hard and necessary work of self-government to a country that simply is no longer up to the job. If all Barack Obama's administration has done is to become the mirror in which we see that basic fact about ourselves, that's all the Leadership (!)tm we should expect from any president. He's not the 98-pound weakling. America is.
You Want A Dialogue On Racism? These Black Teens Are Living It