McCain, Obama and White Privilege

Dan Petegorsky

I’ve been thinking some more about the New Yorker dust up and what it says about this campaign. What’s just struck me is how it’s a prime example of the benefits of white privilege – a concept that’s been as heatedly discussed here as the cartoon.

Here’s what I mean by that: this is another episode where Obama’s identity has been dissected in relation to the symbols of American identity, especially god and country. He’s had to continually locate and define himself in relation to the kinds of patterned behavior and images that America defines as “black,” along the way distinguishing or distancing himself from those aspects of black identity that whites might find threatening or objectionable.

By contrast, let’s look at John McCain. Do we even know anything about his ethnicity, other than the fact that he’s a white guy? Where “his people” come from, other than that his father and grandfather were Navy? Or how ‘bout Cindy? We know she comes from money – but, again, who are her people?

Speaking for myself, the answer is: I don’t have a clue. Nor can I recall a single instance where I’ve heard anyone raise the issue of McCain’s racial or ethnic background and what it does or doesn’t say about his faith, his patriotism, his loyalty, morals, politics, etc. And that’s the essence of white privilege. No one bothers to ask such questions of McCain because, well, he’s a white guy. Now, if he were a Jew or a Mormon he'd get jammed on that front – but simply by virtue of his being white he “belongs” in a way that no non-white candidate can “belong” without having first gone through an inquisition. That’s white privilege.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Well, his surname is McCain. Seems relatively safe to guess that his people come from Ireland, but may have originated in Scotland.

    Some claim he is a descendant of Robert the Bruce, who was a Scotsman. Either way, the whole Celtic thing seems pretty hard to ignore.

    That said... I'm deeply uncomfortable with the notion that "black = African" somehow tells us a lot about who an individual's people are but that "white = European" doesn't.

    The peoples of Africa are as varied and diverse as the peoples of Europe. And, they've been every bit as prone to killing each other based on ethnicity as Europeans have.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Where “his people” come from, other than that his father and grandfather were Navy?

    McCain claimed to be a descendant of Robert the Bruce, one of many brigands who became a king, but Eastmans Genealogy announced John McCain's Links to Scottish King Shot Down by Experts. Clan McCain is one of the Clans of Ulster making him of Irish descent while Robert the Bruce was Scottish.

  • Matt (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I have to disagree just a bit. White privilege is having far more economic and social benefits, as compared to a black person, due to several generations' worth of slavery.

    A white person not having to answer questions about his ethnicity and religion due to his skin color is not privilege; it's racism.

  • admiral_naismith (unverified)
    (Show?)

    You gotta be kidding! McAincient's as Scots-Irish as Balder Stigvigsven!

    If he's descended from Robert the Bruce, my Grandpa's Paul Bunyan!

  • ellie (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Matt - It may not fit your definition but it does fit the definition in the link he provided.

    Dan - Thanks for a very thought-provoking post. I'm still not sure quite what to think about this whole thing. But I think you make a very good point about the typical lack of similar scrutiny faced by white candidates.

  • (Show?)

    Now, if he were a Jew or a Mormon he'd get jammed on that front – but simply by virtue of his being white he “belongs” in a way that no non-white candidate can “belong” without having first gone through an inquisition.

    This is a nonsensical sentence. If a white Mormon does not get a pass then McCain can't be getting a pass "simply by virtue of being white." The white Mormon provides a counterexample that negates that assertion.

  • mamabigdog (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I haven't made efforts to read biographies about McCain's upbringing or family background. The only part the media talks about is his time as a POW, and a little about his marriages. The media has covered the Obama's family backgrounds much more than the McCain's.

    As far as this being a "white" problem, I also recall a similar interest in Bill Clinton's background and upbringing. Hillary was part of that story at the time, so there wasn't as much to retell this time around. I also seem to recall a fair amount of attention was paid to Jimmy Carter's background and upbringing at the time of his election, and re-election, no thanks to his notorious brother Billy.

    It seems that the media just don't tend to question the backgrounds of Republicans, likely because they're so bland and typical. The backgrounds and upbringing of Democrats must be more exciting and "newsworthy" to garner the additional coverage, which is certainly not always positive.

    Of course, the media is loathe to truly question McCain about anything substantial, or run a truly investigative piece about he and Cindy. The media's blackout of McCain's family history and details of his past, beyond the POW story illustrates this. God forbid they lose their 'special' seats on his campaign plane and bus.

  • (Show?)

    Dan

    You are confusing race and ethnicity, later in your post you confuse religion and ethnicity.

    It's not "white privilege" to have Obama's racial background scrutinized and McCain's not--it's the inevitable result of having our first ever African American running for a major party office.

    On the religious front, this is no different than John Kennedy's Catholicism was an issue when he ran. If Mitt Romney runs for office, his religious background will be scrutinized in a way his opponents will not.

    McCain's ethnic background is not being scrutinized for one simple reason: there's nothing unique or different about it.

  • (Show?)

    McCain's ethnic background is not being scrutinized for one simple reason: there's nothing unique or different about it.

    That's exactly the point: white privilege means having your own identity seen as the norm, with anything outside that norm defined as "different."

    Some years back a colleague was describing a black friend's dilemma after having moved to an overwhelmingly white community and trying to figure out where to put her kids in school. She described a meeting with the school principal, who told her not to worry because "we treat all our kids here the same." To which she replied, "the same as what??"

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I haven't made efforts to read biographies about McCain's upbringing or family background.

    This article is blueoregon and this will give some insight into McCain's family traditions.

    I. F. "Izzy" Stone wrote a review of a biography of General Curtis LeMay. There are references to LeMay in this cogent review that might well apply to John McCain.

  • Gary Marschke (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "McCain's ethnic background is not being scrutinized for one simple reason: there's nothing unique or different about it.

    That's exactly the point: white privilege means having your own identity seen as the norm, with anything outside that norm defined as "different." "

    We're getting hung up on semantics - my opinion? Privilege applies to anything that's considered outside the perceived mainstream and "norms" and "mainstreams" are all relative to the environment. For example I regularly work in a community that is predominantly black and therefore have no "privilege" in that community primarily because I don't share the common experience and can't effectively speak to it. I can however attempt to "interpret" it through my filters and frames of reference and perhaps use my "privilege" when working with the white community to add that perspective to the mix.

    What that has to do with McCain and Obama, I have really have no clue.

  • (Show?)

    I think the whole squabble about Obama being a secret Muslim is ridiculous but it's a stretch to label this an issue of "white privilege." After all, his name is Barack Hussein Obama. Nobody made that up. (And, of course, in high school he went by Barry Obama. In Chicago politics, he apparently thought Barack was better.) Jesse Jackson, whatever other problems he had, was never suspected of being a Muslim.

    Go back through the list of American presidents and the only name that isn't Anglo-Saxon-sounding is Eisenhower, and he had some pretty good credentials supporting the case that he wasn't a secret German-sympathizer.

    We've had some presidential nominees whose names weren't Anglo-Saxon, such as Goldwater and Dukakis, but they lost.

    We have a long way to go in establishing a diverse political culture, but I don't think it's fair to blame it on "white privilege."

  • Billee Hoornbeek (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why hasn't the Obama campaign picked up on the racist comment made by Joe Lieberman (sp)? He was proudly telling that he helped get a black man the privilege of running for president - or words to that effect. AGAIN - not a man running for president who happens to be black, but the reverse.
    Would he claim credit for allowing a white male to run?
    Lieberman is running on "superior smug" in all his campaigning for McCain. Would love to see that smirk wiped off his face.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Meanwhile, here's an example of pure, unadulterated bigotry:

    Proposed FBI Guidelines Allowing Racial Profiling

    Whether or not this is also an example of "white privilege" seems irrelevant to me. What's relevant in a presidential race is what Obama's or McCain's or Nader's position is on this, isn't it?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What's relevant in a presidential race is what Obama's or McCain's or Nader's position is on this, isn't it?

    Unfortunately, the people's penchant for sticking with candidates approved by the Democratic/Republican duopoly and corporate America is also relevant.

    For me, the highlight of this presidential campaign will be the inclusion of Ralph Nader in the debates even though he would be worse off than Carter if he were elected with the oligarchies from both parties bent on destroying him. Nader may want to do what is best for the nation, but as the party leaders have proved time and time again they are more interested in their own parties.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bill Bodden said, "Nader may want to do what is best for the nation, but as the party leaders have proved time and time again they are more interested in their own parties."

    Those who would attempt to destroy Nader also would have tried to destroy Kucinich or any other true progressive, Democrat or not. Does that mean we should settle for less?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Those who would attempt to destroy Nader also would have tried to destroy Kucinich or any other true progressive, Democrat or not. Does that mean we should settle for less?

    Unfortunately, as long as the majority of voters fall for the mainstream propaganda we're stuck with non-progressives. The best we can hope for is that through time true progressive voices will persuade enough people to change. It won't happen overnight but, then, neither did the ending of slavery, lynching and denial of civil rights for ethnic minorities. Perhaps the netroots will make a difference, but if some of the people commenting on this "progressive" web site and are examples then it doesn't look like a great bet.

  • (Show?)

    After all, his name is Barack Hussein Obama. Nobody made that up.

    Again, Jack, you're making my point for me: You're confirming that Anglo-Saxon sounding names are accepted as the norm because they conform to the dominant view of who is automatically accepted as a bona fide American - while "funny sounding" names are automatically suspect. So those of Anglo-Saxon heritage maintain the privilege of not being suspected just because of the name they were given at birth.

  • Oceanlake (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I think the attitude of many Democratic activists is that those with European ancestors are racists. Those with African ancestors, on the other hand, are deemed to have pride.

    It's true that Americans with dark skin stand a measurable chance of being discriminated against. It's also true that many of those same people are ready to vote for Obama because his father was born in Kenya. Is that motive an example of pride or racism? If somebody votes for McCain because of his Scottish-sounding name, is that racism or pride?

  • (Show?)

    Oceanlake: You're setting up a straw man here. Saying that whites benefit from privilege is not the same as saying that their individual behavior or attitudes are racist. Racism is structural, and can operate independently of individual intention.

    More to the point: you can't really be serious in suggesting that "those same people" who are proud of Obama are racist. That would be like saying it was racist to have cheered on Jackie Robinson when he broke the color barrier.

  • Bill Hussein Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    After all, his name is Barack Hussein Obama. Nobody made that up.

    So? Maybe he is related to King Hussein of Jordan who was given a rare invitation to speak before Congress.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bodden: Unfortunately, as long as the majority of voters fall for the mainstream propaganda we're stuck with non-progressives.

    You know, I've always been sympathetic to this sort of thinking, but let's face it, it's fundamentally elitist, isn't it? The idea is that the "majority of voters", if not victims of "false conciousness", as Marx termed it, would recognize their "true" interests. In a more contemporary context, it's the same thesis that Tom Frank put forward in What's the Matter with Kansas?. And it's the same thing that way too many of us say to one another, too commonly with a sneer at those "ignorant" working-class folks who just don't see what's so manifestly obvious to us "progressives".

    As for the white privilege issue, I'm ready to talk about that as long as we on this blog can freely talk about ALL ASPECTS of race in American society. As things stand right now, and (IMHO) as so nicely illustrated in the recent commentary about the New Yorker cartoon, we're very much dealing here with a discussion circumscribed by a variety of taboos.

  • (Show?)

    As things stand right now, and (IMHO) as so nicely illustrated in the recent commentary about the New Yorker cartoon, we're very much dealing here with a discussion circumscribed by a variety of taboos.

    I'm not sure I understand. The New Yorker published a provocative cartoon that did just what it was intended to do: provoke controversy. The ensuing discussions (here and elsewhere) touched many different aspects of how race is perceived and talked about in politics and the media. So - where's the "taboo?" Do you mean that you felt you or others were attacked for things that you said/wrote that others may have found offensive or disagreed with?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Unfortunately, as long as the majority of voters fall for the mainstream propaganda we're stuck with non-progressives.

    You know, I've always been sympathetic to this sort of thinking, but let's face it, it's fundamentally elitist, isn't it?

    Not if it is based on some reasonable supporting data or evidence. Take this blog, for instance. It is supposed to be for "progressive Oregonians" but there was practically no support on it for Kucinich who, except for Mike Gravel, was the only real progressive among the people vying for the presidency. All others decided to try to pick a winner from the corporate wing of the party. Edwards was something of an exception with his progressive message, but he was seriously tarnished with his vote for the war on Iraq.

    Then there is the support for the war on Iraq. It didn't call for any superior intelligence to conclude this war was built on a pack of lies. In many cases, street smarts would have been enough if they were sufficiently adequate to spot phonies when they were lying. So those who were opposed to the war didn't have to belong to any elite club. They just needed to get a variety of opinions and conclude who got it right.

    As for the term "elitist" that could do with some definition. The graduates of Chicago, Yale and other universities that are considered prestigious could be considered elitist by many people. So what does that make those of us who believe them to be 14-carat @#$holes? Super-elitists? Or just ordinary people using a dose of good, basic sense?

  • Joel Dan Walls (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mr. Bodden, you say the only "real progressives" in the Dem race were Gravel and Kucinich, cite lack of support for them amongst readers of this blog, and seem to be concluding that either (i)the readers of this blog are in fact not progressives, or (ii)these same readers are suffering from false conciousness...except for yourself, apparently.

    Please tell me why you get to be the person to decide who is or is not a "real progressive".

    Your basic argument about this and about the Iraq war boils down to the following: It doesn't take a genius to see that such-and-such is a bald-faced lie; if John Q. Public, who is not a genius, did not, in fact, come to this conclusion, then clearly he is suffering from a bad case of false conciousness. Sorry, but you've got a completely circular, self-validating bit of reasoning going on here. You've assumed your conclusion.

    Mr. Petergorsky: sure, the discussion of the New Yorker cartoon here was spirited, but it felt to me limited by taboos. I would argue that the cartoon itself was trying to punch through the taboos, as does much satire, and that the reaction to the cartoon was, in part at least, people expressing distress that taboos had been transgressed. For example, "progressive" opinion in the US seems to unconciously invoke a taboo in regards to Islam, to wit: Islam must only be mentioned in a neutral or positive tone. Referring to concepts like "Islamic fundamentalism" or "radical Islam" is, in this content, considered essentially an ignorant, bigoted framing. Yet there's clearly no "progressive" taboo that prevents us from criticizing, even attacking "Christian fundamentalism" or "radical right-wing Christianity," say.

  • (Show?)

    people expressing distress that taboos had been transgressed.

    That's not what I heard. I heard (a) some who were just plain offended by the images; and (b) others who were more concerned that the cover would have the effect of reinforcing rather than spearing anti-Obama slanders.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Please tell me why you get to be the person to decide who is or is not a "real progressive".

    What I expressed was my opinion. I wasn't playing some St. Peter-like role deciding anything. It is also my opinion you are on this blog just to argue, and I have decided to ignore anything else you come up with that I consider just there for plain argumentation.

  • (Show?)

    Dan:

    I appreciate you starting this conversation. After reading many of the responses to your post I can't help but be a little sad. In progressive Portland, on a progressive blog folks are so quick to dismiss white privilege as an illusion because the benefit is so invisible to the ones who inherit it.

    I appreciate the strong white allies who understand they don't lose anything with this acknowledgment in fact maybe they gain something in the process.

    Joel:

    It is a position of privilege to set the rules of the debate. Only people with power get to do that. What is the problem you are trying to fix?

    When you say you want to talk about All aspects of race? What is that about? How many aspects to race do you believe exist? What do you think the problem is in America regarding race?

    Tell me, how should the conversation happen?

  • Sleepneat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Don't all you "Progressives" forget that the Irish in America were treated badly too during the 1800s, they were treated the same as free Negros. White privilege is also feeling guilty about your skin color. If you're white, you're part of the establishment that committed the awful sin of slavery in American, needless to say, slavery is happening in modern day Africa on blacks by blacks. But we're not talking about that, we're talking about the continued insulting of whites from the Left regardless of what they have achieved and did in the name of tolerance. Do you tell your kids to be ashamed of what white people did in slavery and racism? Do you tell them to say "I'm not white, I'm__"? Where is the special tolerance powers of the Progressives, why must you continue to harbor guilt of what happened 150 years ago? Has anything changed? Are blacks still chained and whipped? How many white men and women died to free Blacks from the bonds of slavery, not only in the Civil War but before that in the Underground Railroad and other civil disobedience actions? Republicans were against slavery before the civil war, the Republican party was founded on abolition. While Republicans fought to end slavery, Progressives promoted eugenics and abortion for minorities and others "of that sort". Funny and sad, you don't even know the history of your own movement, and how "enlightened" it was, to say the least.

    Not every white person is privileged, not every white family has ever owned slaves or held racist ideals. It's the idiot Progressive mentality that keeps the race issue from going forward with your continued shame of your skin color, and your white privilege. You will always be guilty and, regrettably, you will still be white, no matter how ashamed of it you are.

    What about Black privilege? Why can Blacks call each other "Nigger" and then be ready to fight when a non-black says it? Why are they excused as "oppressed" and "neglected" when they push the responsibility of raising their children on taxpayer money and society in whole? Where is black accountability in killing each other dope spots and perceived disrespect? But instead, it's Whitey's fault for lax gun control laws and not enough drug agents to seize the dope coming in from abroad.

    The main thing that separates Progressives from Conservatives in general, is your lack of personal responsibility and accountability.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Mr. Walls: I agree with you in your disagreement with Bill Bodden over elitist conceptions.

    Holding ordinary people responsible for the effects of a powerful public relations industry that continues to create "issues" (e.g., supposed Iranian "interference" with our high minded purposes in Iraq, or the "need" for an Afghanistan "surge" that Obama finds so appealing) is unfounded. Support for the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan were manufactured.

    Bill Bodden, you are just wrong about the difference between progressives like you and the majority of Americans, at least on the issues that I care most about (Issues that Matter for 2008).

    The majority of Americans are far to the left not only of the duopoly, but of most people who post to BO. I recommend that you subscribe to PIPA polls (world public opinion). There is copious evidence that most people want the same things, including an end to racism and elitism of all sorts, and perhaps you would feel more positive about the value of supporting real progressives if you knew that evidence.

    When Thom Hartmann was doing weekly polls on Air America during the primary, Kucinich almost always won, in spite of the fact that Hartmann shilled daily for the other corporatist candidates.

    There are indeed areas where the public still is bamboozled, but that can change. Forcing the corporatists to debate with people like Nader and McKinney is one way to begin real change.

  • (Show?)

    Whew! Little bit to get off your chest, eh "Sleepneat?"

    Maybe we can start here:

    Why can Blacks call each other "Nigger" and then be ready to fight when a non-black says it?

    I'll let Ta-Nehisi Coates handle that one.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The majority of Americans are far to the left not only of the duopoly,...

    That may be true of the majority of Americans in a recent poll, but the sorry bunch of people we have in Congress suggests it isn't true of the voters - the Americans that count when it comes to decisions on issues that matter. If I recall correctly somewhere around 70-75% of Americans who were polled supported the invasion of Iraq. That wasn't left of center. It put them in clear opposition to the people I would consider progressive. And as many polls have demonstrated a sizable portion of Americans flip and flop with the prevailing wind.

    The original candidates for the Democratic nomination for president included Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Wes Clark, Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Obama and Hillary. Only Kucinich and Gravel had strong progressive credentials and they went nowhere. Edwards was something of a convert but tarnished by his succumbing to the blandishments of a party hack to vote for the war on Iraq. The rest all had strong links to the corporate wing of the party. Is anyone willing to claim Obama and Hillary, the two finalists, are progressives?

    Obama looked like he might have progressive credentials until his recent events at AIPAC and on FISA. He is clearly an intelligent man, but like the rest of us he proved capable of being exceedingly dumb with his proposal to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by 10,000. General Shinseki has been proven right with his estimate of needing hundreds of thousands of troops to control Iraq. How many will be needed to achieve some semblance of control in Afghanistan? As the British and Russians have proved adding another 10,000 to what are already there won't cut it. This is one version of progressiveness we don't need. Another 10,000 in January 2009, a couple more divisions in April, then another two or three in maybe July and so on until all the troops now in Iraq change their mailing addresses from Iraq to Afghanistan - until the people come to their senses and demand we get the troops out of there. And be ignored for years. From what I have read, my sense is that the Afghanis will be a much tougher proposition than the Iraqis. And, as even the most pro-war naifs have learned, the Iraqis can be a tough bunch of people.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
    (Show?)

    When Thom Hartmann was doing weekly polls on Air America during the primary, Kucinich almost always won, in spite of the fact that Hartmann shilled daily for the other corporatist candidates.

    An Air America poll is about as reliable for evaluating the American people as one on Blue Oregon would be for getting a fix on Oregonians.

  • sleepneat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Like I said Dan, it's a personal accountability thing. If they want to insult themselves by using "nigger", then why does the Whitey Progressive media get up in a tussy if Jesse uses it? He's a nigger too right?

    Me, being a white male and saying Jesse's a nigger, that's pretty insulting, or is it? Jesse would be ready to fight and lose.

    Sorry, I'm white and not guilty nor privileged. But I am proud of where I came from, unlike some AND I don't use that word to describe Blacks because it's insulting and ignorant. Too bad they don't feel the same way.

  • (Show?)

    Too bad they don't feel the same way.

    I see. I guess "they" all feel the same about these matters, huh? So you're better than "they" are because your language is more, what, PC? I don't understand the point you're trying to make. Here's the essence of what that Ta-Nehisi is saying:

    "I never thought that because Toby Keith made a record called White Trash With Money, that somehow gave me the right to address random white people in the fashion. I never thought the fact that there was a magazine called Heeb gave me the right to address my Jewish buddies as such."

    To make a parallel: many LGBT folks have reclaimed the formerly abusive word "queer," and even "bitch" can be used within feminist circles in a non-abusive, dare I say prideful was (as in the magazine, Bitch). I have no idea why that would send you off the deep end; you honestly can't understand the dynamic when a group reclaims a term of abuse and uses it within that group in a totally different sense, while outside the group it still carries its abusive meaning when used maliciously?

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Here's why I think that much of this talk of "white privilege" is disingenuous: Who among you has decided to oppose Obama in response to his favoring the white-dominated power structure?

    "...it's clear from Senator Obama's campaign that he is not willing to tackle the white power structure - whether in the form of the corporate power structure or many of the super-rich - who are taking advantage of 100 million low income Americans who are suffering in poverty or near poverty." (on Obama)

    "I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson?" (appealing-to-white-guilt/)

  • sleepneat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    No Dan, I don't use it because it's oppressive and insulting. As far as the LGBT whatever thing, that is in same use, if they want to demean each other by calling themselves Queer or whatever, then they shouldn't get riled when someone else does. If Barney Frank came on TV to introduce legislation to make a day "Fag" or "Queer" day, the progressive media would have a fit. Much like the Jesse Jackson "nigger" thing. The term "White Boy" is demeaning to us as much as Nigger is to blacks, so why is that word ok to use by Blacks and others? White people can't be offended because they are of the majority? Double standard maybe?

    Just keep your whiteness to yourself Dan, and your guilt too.

  • (Show?)

    The term "White Boy" is demeaning to us as much as Nigger is to blacks, so why is that word ok to use by Blacks and others?,

    LOL. Get your cultural references straight! Wild Cherry was a white band.

  • sleepneat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    LOL. Get your cultural references straight! Wild Cherry was a white band

    Your point is?

    They're white yes? So it's ok for them to use that term according to your reasoning. If you actually read what I wrote, I said "Blacks and others".

    :)

  • (Show?)

    My point was that the Wild Cherry tune is the same phenomenon that you're so offended by on the part of "Blacks and others." They've taken the expression you offered as a slur like "Nigger" and turned the term of abuse into a moniker they're wearing proudly: "Play that funky music, white boy."

    Whether it's "ok" is, I guess, the listener's judgment - it is what it is, and I don't see why it's helpful to insist that everyone use the same words in the same way. Personally, I think it can be a sign of healthy defiance to turn the meaning of a word that's been used against you into a source of pride or affirmation.

  • sleepneat (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Fair enough Dan. I just think its a double standard that need to be addressed, and isn't, that's one part of "White Privilege" that stands out.

    :)

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bill Bodden said:

    (1.) "That [the majority of Americans are far to the left of the duopoly] may be true of the majority of Americans in a recent poll, but the sorry bunch of people we have in Congress suggests it isn't true of the voters..."

    The number of people who voted for that sorry bunch were a small percentage of those eligible to vote. More than 50% don't vote at all, so the winners are receiving between 15 and 22%, depending on the actual turnout. Chomsky and others have demonstrated repeatedly that it is those non-voting citizens who most resemble European left-of-center, pro-labor types; they have nowhere to go with their issues, so they don't vote. Instead of blaming them, you should be blaming the managing elites, who control the message as well as the candidate pool.

    (2.) "If I recall correctly somewhere around 70-75% of Americans who were polled supported the invasion of Iraq."

    This might be true AFTER the propaganda machine roused the public into a vengeance frenzy, but it was not true during the period just after 911, and it is not true now. No one is saying that the people are always right, but when accurate information is given and when debate is allowed between real alternatives, democracy is the best decider. That assumes that you don't have contempt for democracy, as do our non-representatives in Congress.

    (3.) "Is anyone willing to claim Obama and Hillary, the two finalists, are progressives?"

    Certainly not me; I've been arguing for years on BO that almost all Democrats lack progressive cred. But what you and other DP apologists have to direct your attention to is the anti-democratic way that candidates are chosen in the first place.

    (4.) "Obama looked like he might have progressive credentials until his recent events at AIPAC and on FISA."

    That's because you weren't paying attention, as Obama himself has told you. Obama was never a progressive. Even Kari admits that he never was "anti-war". Look at Nader's centrist issues, and tell me which ones were ever supported by Obama. I was telling you long before the AIPAC conference that Obama was regressive on Middle East policy.

    (5.) You are correct about the insanity of Obama's policy proposals regarding Afghanistan, but the DP/RP brainless-trust are revving up the war engines again. Is supporting Obama the way to stop it?

    (6.) "An Air America poll is about as reliable for evaluating the American people as one on Blue Oregon would be for getting a fix on Oregonians."

    I realize that this wasn't a scientifically validated poll, but my point is that even in a stacked deck like Air America, where Hartmann and the others were shilling shamelessly for non-progressives, a true progressive kept winning.

  • gnickmckibbin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I have an idea, crude and a little late for this campaign. But why don't we call the racists card and say Barack O'Bama? There - he's Irish too!!!

  • (Show?)

    sleepneat:

    You appear to have a deep seated anger bought on by the term white privilege. Your logic implies that all black people should act and talk a certain way. Isn't that a narrow perspective? Why do you assume that if all blacks don't do x then you have no responsibility to correct the wrongs done by institutional racism?

    Whether you choose to acknowledge your privilege or not doesn't mean it does not exist.

  • Steve S (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thanks for writing this, Dan--referring to the original post, not all of the subsequent commentary. As a white guy--raised, I guess, as a WASP--I have become quite aware over the years--and I go back a loooong way--that there is indeed a "white privilege" that seems to just come with one's (white) birth. I know that I have gotten some jobs over the years just because of my skin color, and that is just plain wrong.

    I have read quite a bit about the whole black experience and of course have been around since the early Civil Rights years. Currently reading Carl Rowan's book about Thurgood Marshall. The kind of stuff that has happened back in all of the years since slavery was supposedly ended are horrific (lynching, etc.).

    <h2>Even though I have worked hard over the years to purge myself of any racial prejudices, I realize that these elements are built into the culture from the day you are born. Unfortunately, I have no magic formula for how one goes about actually prying racial hatred out of a person's psyche... I guess just one person at a time...</h2>

connect with blueoregon