Saturday, August 01, 2009

Condescension in the age of Obama 

Glenn Reynolds links to a post by Ann Althouse that noticed that the daughter of Henry Louis Gates, Harvard professor, mocked the make-up of Sargeant Crowley's daughter. Glenn instacomments: "Class condescension trumps race condescension in Barack Obama’s America." True, so it almost always is with liberals. But if you believe as I do that condescension is a more or less permanent human behavior we are unlikely to eradicate without germ line engineering, is it not an improvement to base it on class, as much of the world does, than on our peculiar and fraught American racial categories?

And, yes, I would think that even if I were not descended from both Plymouth Colony and Jamestown.


By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sat Aug 01, 03:20:00 PM:

Condescending liberals? Surely you jest , TH.  

By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Sat Aug 01, 03:23:00 PM:

Don't be a tool. In this society, a blue collar white guy's still A-okay versus a Harvard scholar. To this day, among such folk, the joke: "What do you call a black guy with a PhD?" Your commenters all know the answer to that.

Kids in the aftermath of this non-issue (about as ridiculous as thr "birther" thing) have asked why is education the way out, or the means to a better life...and then I see a black scholar demonized?

The condescending 'tudes really only run in one, and only one, direction.

Oh and by the way, it's amazing the solidarity among whitefolks in various "classes" when faced with a neat common rallying point-e.g. upidity negroes messing with someone cognitive comfort zone. We've see your class pull that before again and again since, well, pick a century...

Finally, if you want to see true condescension, be a fly on the wall when some of your "model" minority folks--from Japanese to Koreans to Chinese to the Subcontinent & the denizens of Dubai start talking about all of you. You may find that we are your biggest fans, relatively speaking. Even of Sarah Palin.

So cut the bullsh*t. And Glenn Reynolds, like another glenn, needs to be bitchslapped. Talk about a condescending tool. Even your weird posts on the stimulus or taxes--or this dude Chris Christie (about whom I still don't know jacksh*t...what does he even do?)-- are preferable to this stuff.  

By Anonymous Jim Clay, at Sat Aug 01, 03:33:00 PM:

Actually, I'm not familiar with that joke, Christopher. I would ask you to enlighten me, but somehow I suspect it wouldn't be enlightening.  

By Anonymous Edward Lunny, at Sat Aug 01, 04:15:00 PM:

" and then I see a black scholar demonized "...Exactly wrong, and, ,yet another "woe is me" excuse. Gates wasn't demonized, wasn't critised because of his skin color or educational status. Gates was called out for, first, his ridiculous and ignorant behaviour and ,secondly ,for his attempt to turn it into a racial event end of story.
" Finally, if you want to see true condescension "....read your comment.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 01, 04:23:00 PM:

Jeepers, what a lot of points to correct in your post, Christopher.

1. I don't know the joke, either.
2. It wasn't the black scholar that was "demonized," but his daughter.
3. "The condescending 'tudes really only run in one, and only one, direction." Why should I believe that? Just because you say so?
4. "It's amazing the solidarity..." Are you living in the 1950s or something? Both the media and our schools will side with you, even though they are filled with white people.
5. "... in various 'classes.'" Yet another liberal leftist trying to make it seem as though blue-collar whites are Rockefellers.
6. The "model minority" folks are model minorities here in the U.S., not necessarily back in the old country.
7. Our biggest fans wouldn't be people like you, but black Christians from Africa.


By Blogger TigerHawk, at Sat Aug 01, 06:18:00 PM:

I know the joke. I heard it in 1981 in a very uncomfortable social situation in Charleston, South Carolina. Sadly, at that tender age, 19, I did not have the confidence to extract myself when the humor turned ugly. I have never told it, though, and have never heard it again. I doubt very many blog writers and readers know the joke, at least if they are under 50. And that points, I think, to one of the real differences between Chris and a lot of people who read and comment on this blog: the world is no longer as it was, not even in the United States and probably not even in Charleston. The things that were, indeed, offensive and outrageous in the days of our youth, and our fathers' youth, are increasingly confined to tiny little pockets of fundamentally irrelevant people.

Now, none of this is to say that the police do not sometimes treat people differently on account of the color of their skin. I've heard enough stories from black friends to doubt that this is true. But it is also true that even the police in many towns -- especially places such as Cambridge -- are going to conscious effort to change. In some cases, the world may be changing faster than people like Professor Gates, Professor Chambers, or Rev. Wright acknowledge or even realize.  

By Blogger Donna B., at Sat Aug 01, 06:28:00 PM:

I'm well over 50 and have been in the South for most of those years and have never heard that joke.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Sat Aug 01, 06:29:00 PM:

People, we have condescension on all sides, not just in "Obama's America". In "Palin's"and "Romney's" America too. You all know it's true. I am always disheartened by the reverse snobbery that goes on, the "it's noble to be a regular guy" attitude. Nobility is not a designation of regular, irregular, elite or abject poverty. It is not a designation of who is good or bad,either. Shame on Gates daughter for judging a person by the makeup they wear. Shame on people for wishing death on someone who expresses their right to free speech. Shame on anyone who denies someone the right to marry the person they love, no matter what the gender is. Shame on all of us, myself included, who judge people by who they are, not how they live their lives. Meaness, nastiness and vitriol do NO one any good. Bitterness either.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Sat Aug 01, 06:32:00 PM:

No one is better than anyone else, not by virtue of when they got here, how well educated they are, the color of their skin or the color of their money. Only 2 kinds of people in this world, good people and bad people. Pick.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 01, 07:22:00 PM:

I googled it ... predictable, at least the responses, not funny.

Normally I'd call a PhD doctor, although I'm not impressed with PhD's in African-American Studies. It's frankly a little much for me to appreciate, since there aren't programs in other studies of race that I'm aware of.

The point to Chris' troll, I'd figure, is to try to make this about the race of Gates. Just like Obama, who wanted to have some alternate discussion with Obamacare going so poorly.

Unfortunately, Obama showed his "true colors", as did Gates. While no one could deny that profiling exists, not all people are racist, and not all cops are bad. After decades of affirmative action and bending over backwards to 'regress' what happened before most of us had any ancestors here in America, it'd be nice to have colored people start looking in mirrors for the real person to blame for their plight.

I could frankly give two whether Gates has a PhD or not. He made an ass of himself through this, and apparently his daughter did as well. Obama played this badly, and I think it will dog him. Change my eye ... just more of the same of race baiting. I think it's ironic that an Ivy educated mixed race POTUS could host a black Harvard professor and white cop and actually whine about racism.

Gates and Obama are the bad guys here. You can try to make it about race, but they're the demonstrated racists here, and I think America gets it.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Sat Aug 01, 09:09:00 PM:

Over the years, I have become rather resistant to attempts to play the race card. My first exposure to someone playing the race card occurred decades ago when I was 19 and hippie dropout activist in Berserkeley. I had moved into a room in a house on Telegraph in North Oakland, taking over the lease of a friend who left town.

About a week after I moved in, I was in the kitchen listening to a conversation between some occupants of the house, call them AB, and a black neighbor. The black neighbor wanted to borrow ABs’ “rig,” which I later found out referred to a syringe. AB replied that they didn’t want to loan it.

“What’s the matter, are you prejudiced?” came the reply. While up to this point I had been an innocent bystander to this conversation, I was no longer a bystander when the black neighbor put a gun to my temple. “On the floor,” came the command. I and all others complied.

The black neighbor proceeded to trash several rooms, including that of a black resident of the house.

While this was the first time, it was by no means the last time I saw a scoundrel play the race card. Fortunately, that was the only time I saw the race card played with violence.

That does not mean that all references to the race card are fraudulent. I once worked with a retired Air Force officer with an MBA, who is black. He informed me that in interviewing for various positions at a certain institution shortly after he retired from the Air Force, he found that his resume got him the interviews but upon arriving at the interviews found out the positions had already been filled. He suspected racism. As I didn't see him play the race card on the job, observed him perform well in a difficult job, render me much assistance in mine,and spoke highly of his time in the Air Force, I believe him on this.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Aug 01, 10:17:00 PM:

Hmmm...do you think if we all chipped in and payed Professor Chambers some reparations that he would shut the *&%$ up and stop the annoying, blathering troll bombs.

I've got eight cents and six guitar picks in my pocket...that should almost do it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 01, 10:27:00 PM:

JPMcT ... why would you overpay Chambers?  

By Blogger SR, at Sat Aug 01, 11:56:00 PM:

Tell me the difference between who somebody is, and how they live their life.  

By Blogger apex, at Sun Aug 02, 01:01:00 AM:

Looking in from the outside, I think the problem is that your republic has developed its own nobility, with its own arrogance and conceit. If you take that angle, it all fits, from Palin to Joe the Plumber to Crowley. Uppity peasants, all of them, don't they know their place?


By Blogger SR, at Sun Aug 02, 11:39:00 AM:

Only difference: our peasants wouldn't give our self proclaimed nobility the time of day.  

By Anonymous vicki pasadena ca, at Sun Aug 02, 12:30:00 PM:

SR, let me give you an example. Who am I, I am a 57 year old white, upper middle class woman of Italian, Irish and French origins and I live in Pasadena. How do I live my life, I try (but do not always succeed) in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I try to be kind to all and I try (but don't always succeed) to do the right thing.(no cheating, lying, gossiping, no stealing) I am not a hater and do not spread anger and meaness wherever I go. I try not to judge, don't always succeed. I love my husband, daughter, step-son, daughter-in-law and grandson. I love and care for my 87 year old father(who sometimes doesn't deserve either) and my siblings, eventhough some of them are not love worthy at all times, but then again neither am I all the time. There is a difference, one you have no control over, it's just you. The other you have total control over.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 02, 01:17:00 PM:

I thought this country was about our not having Lords. Some of us are hard-wired to be snobs, but not all of us. I fear snobbery and the social importance of being "connected" will be on the increase in the US, sadly ... and it won't be about color, only stripes.

Link, over  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Aug 02, 06:18:00 PM:

What do you call a black guy with a PhD?

I first heard that from a black woman in Austin, TX in 1971. She had just got her Masters degree.

She told the joke and laughed when she answered it, "Uncle Thomas."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Aug 03, 02:39:00 PM:

Lost in the discussion was TH's point, with which I heartily concur. We are all born with a package of unalterable traits. Discrimination based on these is often baseless. The class structure is not a solid edifice, more like a semi-permeable membrane; that's one thing that makes our country great. It's easy to move down in class and harder to move up, but the latter is possible for those with the wits and abilities to do so if desired.

On race and academe, I'm reminded of a fellow I knew in grad school who wrote a fine dissertation on the social history of the African-American community in a city not known for its diversity. He began applying for professor jobs in Af-Am history and got many interviews. He brought back story after story of watching jaws drop as his interviewers met him and shook his lily-white hand. Those jobs, obviously, were about quota-filling, not teaching and scholarship. He finally settled for a job in an obscure mid-continent college, one apparently disdained by his competitors.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Aug 03, 10:37:00 PM:

"To this day, among such folk, the joke: "What do you call a black guy with a PhD?" Your commenters all know the answer to that."

Another commenter here that has never heard such a joke.

Your level of racial grievance is positively freakish, Chambers. Seriously. I've concluded that it's how you assuage your internal guilt for your relative success (such that it is); to prove your 'street cred,' so to speak. I've seen it before in the Army, where young black soldiers who feel like they have to prove their 'blackness' (for whatever reason, up to and including having white girlfriends or coming from a privileged background) by disobeying, disrespecting, and in one unfortunate incident even attacking white superiors who dared to give them an order. It gets more interesting when they find one another and congregate together and collectively harass other soldiers and make baseless accusations of racism, justifying their obnoxious behavior with crass and unfair generalizations of their own.

Sound familiar?

You're a bully and a thug, Chambers. And you know it, and you like it, and you justify it by imagining yourself as a perpetual victim fueled by righteous indignation rather than as an insecure yet condescending academic.

You once made some idle threats on this blog, something to the effect of 'would you like to meet in person so we can fight?'

Call me.  

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?