Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Bigger Bigot

We're only one day away from March, and after that we're in April. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun, especially watching the Republican Klown Kar parade through primary after primary.

Hard to believe that it was only one year ago, come April, that the President announced he was running for re-election, and this announcement brought Progressive political commentator, Joan Walsh, crawling from the woodwork to reveal herself as something of a racist. The entire reveal began with Walsh's insensitive and totally disingenuous remark in a particularly snarky blog, timed to coincide with the President's announcement that he was seeking re-election. (To Walsh, a diehard Clintonista, this must have been like the proverbial tolling of the bells).

I deeply resent people who insist that white progressives who criticize Obama are deluding themselves that they’re his “base,” when his “base” is actually not white progressives, but people of color. Ishmael Reed laid out this pernicious line in December, in the New York Times, after many progressives, of every race, criticized Obama’s tax cut compromise. Reed compared “white progressives” who wanted more from Obama to spoiled children, compared with black and Latino voters “who are not used to getting it all.” I’ve been getting a similar message from some of my correspondents, and it’s depressingly divisive.

So coupled with a rather tactless remark, which appeared to express resentment that African Americans should even hope to make up a part of whatever the President's base happens to be, she also completely and totally misquoted Ishmael Reed's assessment of White Progressives as well.

You can read the Ishmael Reed article in its entirety here, just to see how far off base Walsh was and who, exactly, was really "pernicious"; and you can read a brilliant summary, with links to the actual argument, of the Twitter war that erupted between Joan Walsh and several brilliant African American bloggers here.

Joan revealed, in herself, what I'd always suspected of a certain strata of Progressive, especially the "Left Coast" variety who sneer down their noses at the rest of America - the rural Midwest, which they jokingly call "Flyover Country" and the South, which in their minds is populated yet with hoardes of Jubilation T Cornpone-type shitkickers and assorted sad Southern belles, cross-pollinated from the corpses of Blanch DuBois and Scarlett O'Hara. Oh, and we're all neo-Confederates with DeliveranceLand morals.

Such enlightened Left Coast Progressives are merely closet racists, whose racism is wrapped in the fetid blanket of subtle condescension, nowhere more prevalent than amongst the talking head icons of the Professional Left, of which Joan Walsh is a charter member. Their racism is masked as disillusionment and disappointment in the fact that the President didn't jump at their first finger-snap and deliver, on demand, a suitably Progressive agenda, irrespective of the fact that Congress was a necessary adjunct in every matter legislative.

In fact, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, actually identified the sloughing off of white Progressive support of the President as "a triumph of a more subtle form of racism", which offended Joan and caused her to label Professor Harris-Perry as her black friend, in an effort to prove that "friend" totally wrong.

Such pandering condescension brought the professor's hammer down firmly on Walsh's assertion of friendship. In an article responding to Joan's effort to "school" Professor Harris-Perry, the academic remarked:-

I was taken aback that Walsh emphasized the extent of our friendship. Walsh and I have been professionally friendly. We’ve eaten a few meals. I invited her to speak at Princeton and I introduced her to my literary agent. We are not friends.

Since that exchange of articles, Harris-Perry has now acquired a show in her own right on MSNBC, which airs every weekend, and Joan Walsh is the newly-appointed political analyst for the same cable network, replacing a man whom she's fought bitterly, Pat Buchanan.

I am not a fan of Pat Buchanan; neither do I like Joan Walsh. Pat Buchanan's views on race are particularly distasteful, but he doesn't hide those views, as Walsh does hers, behind a curtain of concern trolling. Since the infamous Twitter battle, Joan's tried endlessly to tie her Irish Catholic heritage, as downtrodden and beleagured, to the heritage of slavery in the United States.

Believe me, there is no comparison.

But recently, Joan's ventured into another realm of ugly reality, inadvertantly revealing herself to be a religious bigot as well. Last night, on Twitter, as the returns came in from the Michigan Primary, Joan made a particularly bigoted Mormon joke, tried to explain it, walked it back and eventually, reluctantly, apologised.

The joke was contained in the first Tweet:-

Romney's saving the soul of America - so he doesn't have to baptize us after we're dead.

Then later:-

Also, Romney was the one who said he wanted to save our souls, just another apocalyptic, hysterical attack on the president.

And finally:-

However, I believe in keeping religion out of politics and I don't want to be responsible for everything my Church preaches, so I apologize

Admittedly, Walsh got slammed, and virulently so, by the usual Rightwing Breitbartian contingent. I'm no fan of theirs either. Neither am I a believer in any religion, but I have a particular discomfort with the penchant the Left Coast Progressives seem to have in deriding people of faith. Considering the amount of time and blogspace Joan's dedicated to outlining all the slings and arrows of outrageous prejudice thrown the Catholics' way over the year, it seems now that she's joined in the late-night comedians' bracket of making Mormon jokes.

I know very little about the Mormon religion, but I've no doubt that Mormons are Christian. A cousin of mine converted and married a Mormon. They are Christians and also very liberal Democrats. Like Harry Reid, only more liberal. I know that Mormons hold beliefs different from other Christian denominations. So do Catholics. So do Southern Baptists. So do Primitive Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I was raised to keep religion out of politics - kinda like the First Amendment - and therefore, a politician's religion holds no brief with me. A person's faith is intensely personal and should no more be criticized or joked about than a person's personal appearance. Not bright.

Joan finds the fact that Mormons baptize dead people weird. I grew up with kids who thought that Catholics prayed to saints and viewed Communion as the actual body of Christ disturbing. We don't joke about either.

And I object to the sanctimonious, faux concern-troll tone Joan adopted in the ubiquitous blog, backtracking and sullenly apologising for her remarks:-

I live-tweeted the primary results, and in the course of my dozens of tweets I made a Mormon joke. After Romney pompously talked about “saving the soul of America” – typical of the histrionic rhetoric the GOP contenders use about defeating President Obama – I said, “Romney’s saving the soul of America – so he doesn’t have to baptize us after we’re dead.” Of course, the Mormon church is under fire for baptizing dead non-Mormons, including Anne Frank and hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims, and more recently, Daniel Pearl.

(And the Catholic Church is under bigger fire for its complicity in hiding years of child sexual abuse by its priests).

I was honestly torn about how to reply. On the one hand, Elie Wiesel has asked Romney to ask his church to stop baptizing Jews. Daniel Pearl’s family was disturbed, especially since the journalist professed his Jewish identity before he died (and likely died for it). Romney himself took part in baptizing dead non-Mormons, he admitted in a 2007 interview with Newsweek, telling the magazine awkwardly when asked about the practice, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.” I think his views on his church baptizing the dead of other faiths, when leaders of those faiths and even the families of the dead object, is a legitimate topic for political inquiry.

(I don't. It's a personal matter. As long as such practices don't interfere with any sort of governmental function, I don't see such a practice - unfamiliar as it may be to non-Mormons - as a problem. Perhaps Joan would like a political inquiry for Harry Reid?)

Given that I believe religion and politics should be kept as separate as possible, and given that Romney isn’t endorsing baptizing dead non-Mormons out on the campaign trail, my joke was a cheap shot. I apologized on Twitter, and I apologize here.

(Please. And trying to be a bit more gracious in your apology might be mete; because it's this attitude amongst Progressives, particularly the Left Coast variety, which totally alienates people of faith who may, just may, have socially liberal consciences and open to political persuasion. Because of this attitude, our battle is lost before it's begun. And you're right ... religion and politics, as everyone so rightly castigated Rick Santorum, should most definitely be as separate as possible.)

Joan's blocked me from following her, but I know she reads my blog, and that's as sneakily hypocritical as anything she's done above; so I'll stop now, before she acuses me of being a Republican and a Romney supporter. She's already accused me of being a misogynist ... and I'm a woman.

1 comment:

  1. I've made the point on several occasions that these "white progressives" that follow Joan and her compatriots are not, as they style themselves "the base. I'm not the only one, and that's what Joan is so defensive about with her whine. The reality, if you look at hard numbers, is that they constitute at most 5% of the Democratic Party membership. "The" base is made up of a group of constituencies, a each consisting of a set of "base voters." In the overall scheme of "the base," people like Joan and those like her constitute not just a minority of the Party, but a minority of progressives.

    I've also noticed the pernicious strain of bigotry that pervades these people. They try to mask it, but after a reading them for a while, it comes down to Occam's Razor as an explanation for their continuous attacks on this president. Let me put it this way: I'm white, male, in my mid-50's, and considered to be obtuse at times when it comes to "political correctness." So if I've noticed it, it means that they're not doing as good a job of hiding it as they think they are.