eruthros: Ivanova from B5 saying "boom boom boom boom" to Londo -- angry icon!! (B5 - Ivanova boom)
[personal profile] eruthros
Here is a thing that makes me really sad: this sign [note: link contains image of Holocaust victims], at the anti-health care march in Washington D.C. today. Which, okay, is horrifying enough as a piece of political rhetoric, if you presume that the people in question don't believe in it, it's horrifying enough as a parallel between mostly-white mostly-Christian Americans who don't want health care and, you know, the torture and deaths of Jewish and Romani and homosexual folks, but what really horrifies and depresses me is the idea that the person holding that sign, the person waving that sign around, might not just be doing it as political rhetoric, might actually believe in that comparison. How horrifying is it to think about the mostly-white mostly-Christian mostly-conservative anti-health care folks imagining themselves to be the same as Jews and Romani and queer folks in Nazi Germany? To think about what they must believe to make this comparison in all seriousness? To make the comparison between socialized medicine and genocide? I am just "..."

Also, linking to the above at Think Progress reminded me of how much I hate reading comments on progressive blogs. I skim the front pages of a number of progressive blogs, and I usually don't read the comments -- there are so few blogs that think about intersectionality, that really try to keep out the misogyny and the homophobia and the transmisogyny and the racism and the ablism. I read the comments on this post about a racist sign in an Georgia bar a while ago, though, and just -- this is exactly it, this is exactly the problem. Here are some things I learned about the TRUTH about racism from reading comments, which I have put here; note that they hit just about every -ism ever:

First comment: "better a half-breed than a redneck low-life"
Second comment: "Racists are what happens when siblings marry."
Third: "Here's more 'free speech' for you, you moon-faced chucklehead: You’re a racist, moronic piece of shit ... ..."

Some selected comments from further down in that post:
"Patrick Lanzo is a half-wit."
"This man was deprived by his parents, he was deprived by his educational system. He’s never done anything he could feel proud of."
"Besides that, this guy is one of the foulest lowlife trailer trash as$holes representing the Republic Fascist Party of bigots, racists, liars, selfish, scum bags."
"Poster child for the Republican base. A simple-minded moron and obvious loyal Fox 'News' viewer."
"this dude is 100% Pure White Trash."
"poor little juan, so scared that his tiny member will get laughed at, he comes here to defend other racists [...] you are obviously such an ignorant cowardly bigot?" [about a commenter supporting the bar-owner]
"His mother is home. The meth lab is inside the double wide." [about a commenter supporting the bar-owner]
"Check his education level and you won’t be surprised."

So, okay, if I read the comments to these posts, not only do I have to put up with ablism (oh god the ablism) and racism and misogyny and so on, I also have to learn about how only some people are racist. And these sorts of comments are all over almost every progressive politics blog post that I've seen about racism. Here is what I have learned about racism from reading these comments:

1) It's biological, it has something to do with being stupid, with low IQ. (See: "when siblings marry" and "moon-faced" and "simple-minded moron" and "half-wit.") Presumably, then, smart people are never racist!

2) It's a failure of education. ("Deprived by his educational system" and "check his education level.") Presumably, then, well-educated people are never racist!

3) It's a class issue, which is a neat conflation of 1 and 2. ("Trailer trash," "white trash," "redneck," "meth lab is inside the double-wide.") Presumably, then, well-educated upper-class people are never racist, right?

4) Racists are compensating for something, they're not masculine enough, they're cowards. ("Tiny member," "coward.") And hey, these commenters aren't cowards! They're standing up for something! And they're totally manly, too!

And it's like, right there in those comments you can see exactly what's going on, you can see racism being defined away. Nobody who reads that blog could be racist, because everybody who reads that blog is smart -- that's why they're there! They're educated! They watch the good news! They're not trailer trash! They're plenty manly! And so, if you dare to accuse them of racist speech, you will get nothing but surprise and bewilderment and denial: racists aren't like them, racists are just like those things above. They're not idiots, and only idiots are racist.

That's an older post, but it's not unusual, and every time I read comments I end up stuck somewhere like that, in some cycle of -isms used to protest how nobody there is some other -ism, and then people ask: why aren't more people of [category x] involved in our movement? Or maybe they don't, maybe they don't even notice.

I'm just so tired of it, and I'm so tired of not reading comments in order to get news, and I'm tired of getting angry every time I try to find out about, like, election results.

Date: 2009-11-05 09:27 pm (UTC)
cesare: a mermaid's tail (underwater)
From: [personal profile] cesare
I think if you confronted and asked a lot of those progressive blog commenters about racism, they'd acknowledge that it's systemic and that no one is exempt from it; they're slurring people as ignorant and racist who openly and consciously buy into and act on racist beliefs. I mean to say, I've seen that conversation happen occasionally in progressive blog comments sections with those results. (Though maybe that's self-selecting: the kind of blog comments sections where that conversation actually occurs is the kind that's more likely to have that result.)

I hope if they were poked about it, they'd also recognize that the pejoratives they use toward bigots are kneejerk and thoughtless and carry their own prejudices, but that's... probably a less safe bet. :-/ I particularly wince at the inherent racism of "white trash" and I really hate that some gimmicky comedians have "reclaimed" that phrase and perpetuated its use.

Date: 2009-11-06 04:42 am (UTC)
cesare: Ed from Cowboy Bebop (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesare
Ah, I see. DailyKos and Salon are such large comments pools that I would be a lot less optimistic about the commenters there, unfortunately. :-/

Date: 2009-11-05 10:41 pm (UTC)
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
From: [personal profile] happydork
I thought I was inured to tasteless appropriation of the Holocaust, but that first link genuinely shocked me.

They're not idiots, and only idiots are racist.

There's been so much of this rhetoric going round the UK at the moment with the recent publicity given to our own racist extremists, and yes, that, exactly -- thank you for articulating it so clearly.

*shoulder bump*

Date: 2009-11-05 11:16 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: I'm not as awesome as I think I am (gen - not awsome at all)
From: [personal profile] thingswithwings
yes, this, exactly. Racism is: the owner of a Klan bar calling Obama a half-breed. Racism isn't: anything less extreme than that. This takes me back to Well Shitterly and his "hey, I know racism! I've seen crosses burned on lawns!" defense.

. . . and, as you know, I'm so horrifed by the "genocide = socialized medicine" poster that I . . . it's too much, it eludes me.

Date: 2009-11-06 03:46 pm (UTC)
blushingflower: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blushingflower
Well, because clearly, since racism is bad, only bad people are racist. Otherwise good, well-meaning people can't ever be racist, even unintentionally. And if racism is systemic, then it might actually take something more active than simply not joining the KKK to end racism. But isn't "not a racist" just another way of saying "doesn't use the n-word"?

Date: 2009-11-06 07:04 am (UTC)
livrelibre: DW barcode (Default)
From: [personal profile] livrelibre
Yeah. *sighs*

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