The Teleprompter Meme

Many years ago I was doing some banking at a drive-up ATM machine and went to pull out a deposit envelope (back in the days when you needed an envelope). Instead, out came a poorly photocopied racist tract that someone had filled the slot with. The group credited with authorship had the usual assortment of white supremacist buzzwords in their organizational name but it clearly reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Klu Klux Klan and its even more racist brethren.

The premise of the poorly–spelled and grammatically-suspect tract was that Africans did not have the intelligence that White people had despite the attempts of the Liberal Media to make it appear otherwise. In particular, it asserted that all public speaking African-Americans (and that was a phrase used nowhere in the piece, the n-word and various references to primates being the preferred terms) were nothing better than trained chimps taught to parrot words given them by their masters.

The essay made a great fuss how most modern local news shows paired an attractive white woman with a supposedly articulate black man. It went on and on about how this was a terrible fraud since the man had no ability to understand the words he was saying. It then went into great detail about how this was a blatant attempt to make Blacks look like the intellectual equals of Whites while feeding the viewing public via happy-talk banter a pro-miscegenation message. The pamphlet was vile and vulgar and perhaps the most despicably racist thing I have ever read. I immediately threw it away with disgust thinking that nobody could possibly be swayed by that garbage.

Only the thoughts behind that screed live on today in The Teleprompter Meme. There is perhaps no more studied contrast in public speaking ability than that between Barack Obama and his predecesor, the infamously mush-mouthed George W. Bush. And while it usually is a left-handed compliment to call any black man ‘articulate’ as if it is as shocking to encounter one as it is to see a walking dog, Obama is truly articulate and eloquent, with or without a prepared text.

And while ascribing Obama’s poise to his ability to read off a teleprompter can be written off as typical Republican Big Lie Jujitsu (accuse your enemy of lacking their biggest strength) it also ties into the deeper racial subtext that somehow Obama is a fraud and a puppet. The sheer virulence and perseverance of The Teleprompter meme shows that it somehow resonates with the conservative base who see Obama’s presidency as being at some level illegitimate.

When a truck carrying the presidential speaking gear including the POTUS podium and the teleprompter was briefly stolen, all sorts of right-wing blogs snickered about the Obama presidency being paralyzed by the loss. TOTUS as a shorthand phrase for the demeaning Teleprompter of the Unites States is a catch phrase the wingnuts instantly recognized and even had its own parody blog and multiple Twitter feeds.

And while it can be argued that there is not an overtly racist interpretation of this concept, I defy anyone to explain how a theme designed solely to make the president appear far less intelligent and independent than he is does not play into racial stereotypes at some level.

And now Rick Perry is playing the Teleprompter Card. In his latest campaign commercial (as quoted by The Fix because the YouTube link has already been pulled) he says:

“If you’re looking for a slick politician or a guy with great teleprompter skills, we already have that, and he’s destroying our economy,” an upbeat Perry says in the ad. “I’m a doer, not a talker.”

By specifically using the word ‘teleprompter’, Perry is making a dogwhistle directly contrasting himself with Obama.

Of all the slurs used against Obama, I find the Teleprompter Meme the most insidious because it reaches a dark portion of the conservative soul. People respond to it at a visceral level not even realizing how their prejudices are being played. Every time I encounter it, I immediately call it out as being crypto-racist and I always face some blowback. People refuse to acknowledge the racist underpinnings of the meme. But pay attention. See how it gets used and it what context. And don’t let people get away with it.

164 Responses

  1. I profoundly disagree. I've heard Obama off prompter and he's not particularly articulate. Of course, I've never found him to br particularly compelling speaker on prompter anyway so…How can a country so deeply imbued with racism elect an African American to the highest elective office in the first place? Somehow those that. PTSD for him woke up after inauguration day and suddenly reawakened their inner racist?I think this, along with the Axelrod Conspiracy appeals to those with a victim mentality. It seems like its done not to appeal to independents but to the base.

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  2. I had never thought about it like that. Always thought the tp meme was foolish, because everyone uses them for prepared texts. Why not? How is it different from reading from notes? Lincoln had a scratch version of the G Address to reference, although, as we all know, it can be memorized in fifth grade.We have seen enough of BHO without tp to know he is a decent public speaker and good on his feet. However, he is not Bill Clinton good on his feet.Kevin, I would have voted R for your junior Senator, the former Mayor of Chattanooga. Do you still like him? Did you ever like him?Expanding on something I wrote earlier, Gates-Clinton were better advisers for the nation than Geithner-Summers. He had Volcker, Bair, Warren, and unofficially, Buffett, but went with Summers at every turn.

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  3. "Somehow those that. PTSD for him" should be "Somehow those that voted for him"

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  4. Exactly, Mark In Austin. Every president has used them and none needed them more than Dubya. So why did this slur stick on Obama? Because people want to believe he is stupid despite all evidence to the contrary.

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  5. McWingnut,I have seen Obama give very detailed precise answers off-the-cuff in press conferences and the like. Obviously he preps for them but he is not beholden to the teleprompter. If you don't think he is a very good public speaker, I'd like to see your short list of national politicians who are better.

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  6. I liked Bob Corker. I voted for Harold Ford, Jr., hoping for a conservative Democrat (indeed, Harold Ford was moving forward on a bi-partisan, Dubya-style SS reform initiative, or supporting Bush's, was arm-twisted and back-tracked, coming out later with an official position opposing touching the 3rd rail. But it was a toss-up. I was not enamored with Corker's response to my question about immigration, though I have perhaps softened since then. He wasn't for SS reform. By all accounts, he was an excellent mayor of Chattanooga, and if I were independently wealthy, I'd much rather live in Chattanooga (and eastern Tennessee generally) than the Memphis area.Still, I'm all right with Bob Corker. I'd still would have liked to see Harold Ford, Jr. make progress–but he was such a blue dog, he was constantly being attacked from the left. I like Corker as much as I like most politicians, especially over time, after they've had months and years to disabuse my of my earlier infatuation (don't disappoint me, Chris Christie!).

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  7. yjkt, you raise an interesting challenge.1] who are good public speakers with set piece speeches [the kind that usually use tps]?2] who are fast on their feet without prompting?As for #2, although his demeanor was relatively flat, no one outside the judiciary in the past five years has matched Sec. Gates, who can testify on point without notes, in detail, and coherently. Roberts, and earlier, Ginsburg, were extraordinary before the SJC. In their wheelhouse, most judicial nominees are far superior to their questioners.HRC was better than BHO in those debates. But JB was better than either of them.Howard Baker was great extemporaneously.Jack Kemp was pretty good, too.WJC was the best at that, but JFK was close. For set piece speech, Reagan, absolutely the best, then JFK. BHO may give better set piece speeches than WJC – I found WJC mesmerizing when I was listening but I cannot think of what he said now. His speeches suffered from length. McC has given some good set piece speeches. BHO has given several good ones.

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  8. "The sheer virulence and perseverance of The Teleprompter meme shows that it somehow resonates with the conservative base who see Obama's presidency as being at some level illegitimate."Which would be the case, pretty much no matter what. There may be a racial component for some, but it could be Al Gore and many conservatives, especially among the pundit class, would think he was an idiot. If it wasn't a supposed "over-dependence" on the teleprompter, it would be something else. George Dubya Bush was not stupid. Neither was Reagan, nor Eisenhower, and though more respected on the left today then at the time, even Eisenhower was routinely panned as not being all that bright. Reagan was "an amiable dunce", and "suffering from senility" and the lesser intellectual light between the two stars of the Bedtime for Bonzo movies. Dubya, though prone to malapropisms, was not broadly a stupid man. It would be tough, Rove or Axelrod or not, to be a dunce, amiable or not, and ascend to the presidency. Just ask any of the current GOP contenders just how tough it is to get the primary nomination.To whit: people with strong ideological and partisan convictions will often find the fact that you are on the opposite side from them prima facie evidence that you are stupid, or at least their intellectual inferiors. Bush was prone to malapropisms. There was clearly more there than that (I can't fly a fighter jet, can you?) but that became his defining characteristic to critics on the left. Obama is clearly smart and a solid communicator, on the whole, but being caught once of twice unprepared to speak off-prompter (presidents are busy; they are often dependent on the prompter, because they have to get this done and get on to the next thing) and to his critics, this becomes a defining characteristic. Of course he's not smart enough to speak without a script–he wouldn't be a liberal Democrat, if he were smart!But the conviction that people we disagree with are puppets, are being manipulated, are being brainwashed–that's universal. Bush was a dolt being run by the evil Darth Cheney (Or Darth Turd Blossom, depending on who's telling the story). The tea party folks weren't organic: it was all orchestrated by the Koch brothers. People aren't voting for Republicans because they believe in low taxes in less government, they're being brainwashed by unrestricted anonymous corporate campaign cash! I would argue most presidents have their equivalent of the teleprompter meme. I refer you to Jimmy Carter, who could never seem to escape having been a peanut farmer, or his brother Billy, and Billy Beer. Or having a Baptist background. Etc. Reagan, who was an "amiable dunce" characterized primarily as a cowboy warmonger, and the former start of the Bedtime for Bonzo series, a B-actor whose strings were, no doubt, being pulled by darker forces, anxious for nuclear war. Clinton was a horndog. I'm not sure that was inappropriate, though.

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  9. The meme for W, Reagan and my 'Cuda were that they were/are drooling idiots, was that racism as well? If not why not?Oratory is subjective, I think Reagan was compelling, along with Clinton. I don't find Obama compelling, probably because of the strawmen left butchered in his wake. Rubio is also good, IMO as well. Obama, stumble and uses ahhh's and ummm's off prompter, and that tendency is heightened when under stress. To me, good oratory requires belief in the topjc(s). I just don't. Uh Obama's underlying belief in what he says.

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  10. McWing: "How can a country so deeply imbued with racism elect an African American to the highest elective office in the first place?"The purveyors of the teleprompter meme, by definition, are highly unlikely to have voted for Obama. Thus, the deeply imbued racism is mostly limited to his critics. Beyond that, I believe there would have been harsher and nastier criticism of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Presumably, that would have been sexism, but what about president Biden (who would have definitely been treated as a moron by conservative pundits) or Gore or whomever? Those folks would have gotten respect from the guys who originally voted against them, en masse? The teleprompter meme would have surfaced, or some variation thereof, no matter who the Democratic president was. The right has never given Democratic politicians a great deal of respect for their intelligence, because when you're wrong on important ideological issues, you can't be that bright. Right? 😉 Political opposition is always looking for attack vectors. Be it Bush's malapropisms, or resemblance to a monkey, or the lack of WMD's in Iraq, or Joe Wilson revealing his wife's identity and then blaming it on the Bush administration (bomb thrower!). Perhaps it's worse in regards to conservative attacks on Obama, but even if conservative are generally more aggressive in their attacks (I'm dubious), I don't think they would have given president Gore or Rodham-Clinton or Biden any more leeway than they've given Obama.

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  11. "The meme for W, Reagan and my 'Cuda were that they were/are drooling idiots, was that racism as well? If not why not?"Please, Troll. It was ageism and sexism, respectively. In the case of Sarah, for many, it was also a deep and bitter jealousy over her total MILF-iness.

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  12. Rick Perry could fly a fighter jet too as could John McCain (just not very well, he crashed five of them) so I don't use that as a high bar. And I say that as the son of a fighter pilot. My dad failed out of electrical engineering so he could become a math major with a Gentleman's C as career path to the Air Force.

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  13. The worst characteristic for impromptu speaking may be Gore-Kerry-Romney disease. Literally, a "Dis – Ease" with talking to groups.

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  14. Romney when he doesn't have a script in front of him immediately inserts his foot in his mouth. And not to play the 'well-spoken' card, but Cain is probably the best speaker of the current GOP crop.

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  15. Romney is a big and toasty a waffle as John Kerry ever was. I'm not holding out much hope. I still respect the pilots. I stand by my position that, popular opinion of non-president pundits aside, stupid people don't make it to the presidency. Even if some of them have some spectacularly bad ideas.

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  16. YJKT, if you watched Huntsman's hour with Charlie Rose last December [I think] you would have seen a man at ease in an interview. He does not seem uneasy in a group, but he's not salesman smooth. Agree that Cain does do the sales routine well.Bachmann has some presence, but she puts her foot in her mouth, too. Often. Newt is a good conversationalist, but he is in turn condescending and gratuitously insulting in the debate milieu.Agree with TMW that Rubio does a good set piece speech. I have heard Jindal more than most of you and he is far better than that speech he gave on TV after a State of the Union. He is actually quite good both prepared and extemporaneous. Christie seems quick on his feet [figuratively].The governor of Montana, Schweitzer [sp?], can do a rousing set piece. Have no idea how he does off the cuff.

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  17. And old Jerry Brown makes it look easy, but he is in his last political job and taking it very, very seriously. As Lms says, if he cannot get CA to budget and balance, probably no one can.Best set piece speech I have heard since "morning in America" was Tony Blair's speech to Commons on why UK needed to go into Iraq. It reads well, but it sounds even better. He convinced me. OK. I was w-w-rong. But go find it and listen to it if you never heard it.

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  18. yellojkt:Only the thoughts behind that screed live on today in The Teleprompter Meme.No they don't. Presidents (and vice-presidents) routinely get criticized, fairly and unfairly, for all sorts of things. It's a function of being president in a polarized society, And a (portion of the) media hostile to a particular president and his policies will attempt to pigeonhole him with an oft-repeated negative caricature, routinely highlighting anything that plays into the caricature, and ignoring anything that doesn't. W the bumbling imbecile, Clinton the horndog, Bush I the out-of-touch patrician, Gore the tedious technocrat, Quayle the idiot, Reagan the amiable dunce. All of these contain a kernel of truth that have been exploited by critics and blown all out of proportion into a full-fledged caricature. Obama cannot expect to be exempted from this time-honored routine just because he is black, and his blackness doesn't suddenly transform it into an outrageous racial attack.The notion of Obama as the teleprompter president has been advanced by his critics not as a subliminal racial attack on him (although it is certainly convenient to dismiss it as such), but as a counter to the initial and even more pervasive media meme of Obama as the Greatest Orator Of Our Times. During the campaign in '08, Obama's speaking abilities were trumpeted by a compliant and mesmerized media far, far beyond any merits he has has a speaker. Chris Matthews' tingling legs and the ridiculous reaction to his highly touted grand national speech on race (subtitle: Go Away, Reverend Wright) are just two examples among many that come immediately to mind. The teleprompter meme is an effective counter to the Greatest Orator meme. And, like other caricatures of other presidents, there is a kernel of truth to it. Obama as an impromptu speaker is much less impressive than he is with a set speech. In fact he is not all that impressive at all as an off-the-cuff speaker, except perhaps in contrast to his predecessor. Given that historical racial stereotypes assume all manner of negative characteristics, it is difficult to come up with a way of criticizing or parodying Obama that couldn't be construed in some way as a racial attack, if one were intent on viewing everything through the lens of race. And I suppose, as politics go, crying racism can be a useful and effective way of blunting criticism, even when racism has nothing to do with it. But I suspect, and I firmly do hope, that in a nation which has already shown itself unconcerned enough about race to have elected a black man to the highest office in the land, such racial card playing will quickly run up against the law of diminishing returns.

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  19. As with most things like this, there are a variety factors at play as to why the teleprompter meme continues. Certainly racism plays a factor for some, but I think the driving factors are the media's portrayal of Obama as a good speaker and an intellectual and Bush's reputation as a poor speaker and dolt. Many people on both sides of the political spectrum are heavily invested in proving media bias exists. So exposing Obama as a bad speaker exposes yet another example of media bias. Another factor is that Bush was repeatedly ridiculed as being dumb,largely because of his pereceived speaking problems. If it can be shown that all Presidents make gaffes or mistakes, Bush wasn't any better or worse. To some extent they both are a result of the media, but I think there is a slightly different motivation for each.

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  20. "During the campaign in '08, Obama's speaking abilities were trumpeted by a compliant and mesmerized media far, far beyond any merits he has has a speaker. Chris Matthews' tingling legs and the ridiculous reaction to his highly touted grand national speech on race (subtitle: Go Away, Reverend Wright) are just two examples among many that come immediately to mind."In your opinion. I don't suppose it's possible that a wide swath of people who either agreed with what Obama was saying or didn't disagree with him as strongly as you did/do, in fact did think that those speech were the best they had ever heard? Remember many of Obama's passionate followers had probably either never paid much attention to what a politician was saying or had only paid attention to Obama's predecessor. I was 28 when Obama was elected which means I was 20 when Bush so I enjoyed hearing Presidential and candidate speeches by Bush and Gore and Kerry. So tingly legs aside, I think calling people ridiculous for disagreeing with you is ridiculous, particularly given what I mention above and the broader context of the election (2 wars, collapsing economny).

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  21. Scott and Ashot are probably closer when they say it was a meme designed to blunt the "great orator" and "intellectual" claims on the left and in the media. That being said, on reflection, the few unreconstructed racists I deal with really like the meme. So it could be said to appeal to them. As well. Incidental and/or consequential? Consequential only if it appeals to voters for whom race is an issue, even if it is not a primary one.Does anyone else have nominees for good orators and good extemporaneous speakers in public life?

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  22. "such racial card playing will quickly run up against the law of diminishing returns."I think it will continue to play well with core constituencies. Even as more and more people, growing up in the modern age, have very little exposure to unreconstructed racists. If the goal is to preach to the choir, called clearly smart and generally capable (if, alas, enamored with bad policies and/or ideologies) stupid or incompetent or puppets is a good strategy. Similarly, calling all criticism of your candidate racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, etc., is a great strategy if the goal is to get the choir riled up. As other comments section have demonstrated (at least to my satisfaction) there are folks that deeply believe that there is no difference between anyone who votes for a Republican and a member of the Klan (or precious little). I suspect when it comes to partisanship and ideology, these days, sourcing the prompter meme to racism is putting the cart before the horse. That is, I think, as with some quasi-racist cartoon depictions of Condaleeza Rice as a mammy, racism becomes one of the many tools in the toolbox, or at least a matter of no concern, when attacking people who are ideologically wrong and perhaps advancing policies that are an existential threat to America as we know it. Ergo, it's okay if I something vaguely racist if I'm a liberal and I'm talking about Condaleeza Rice or Clarence Thomas. Or, if I'm a conservative and I'm talking about Barack Obama or the Congressional Black Caucus. Or doing a parody song about Barack the Magic Negro (which, of course, was sourced, almost verbatim, from a liberal newspaper columnist).

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  23. Nominees for good extemporaneous speakers in public life? Like, politicians? I'm not sure. I've seen and heard many inspirational speakers and, for the most part, they are all good. I'm sure much of it is rehearsed, but not all of it. A year ago I heard Leigh Anne Tuohy and Ron Clark speak. They were both great, and spoke without notes or prompters, and Leigh Anne Tuohy was, I believe, speaking off the cuff. Of course, there's a reason inspirational speakers get into the business: they are good at it. If you ever get a chance to hear Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy (and Zig Ziglar is 84, so I'm not sure how much more public speaking he's going to do), I'd go for it. I've heard a few others, and even in a small conference room of an airport hotel, I've been won over by regular folks giving management seminars. And it's interesting to me that a guy whose management seminar I attended in a small conference room at an airport hotel was generally a better and more interesting public speaker than most of our politicians. 😉

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  24. Kev, that was also true for some of my law profs. But I meant politicians.

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  25. Last politician speaking off the cuff that really impressed was Bill Clinton on The Daily Show pre Nov 2010.

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  26. ashot:In your opinion.Yup. Like pretty much everything else I or anyone else writes here.I think calling people ridiculous for disagreeing with you is ridiculousThank goodness I didn't do that, then! I called the reaction to his speech ridiculous, and I think it was. It was portrayed far and wide as "truly historic", as not only "the best speech ever given on race in this country" but also "one of the great speeches in American history", and even "as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials…".Now quick, without looking…can you provide one substantive, unique, and otherwise useful point about race that Obama presented in his "historic" speech? How about a single notion from the speach that has been carried forward by or defined Obama's policies on race relations? How about a single, snappy, soundbite? No fair peaking.The idea that this now almost entirely forgotten speech (and, lest we forget, one inspired solely out of political calculation and survival instinct) belongs in the same category as MLK's I Have a Dream, or AL's Four Score and Seven, or even JFK's Ask Not, is, to me, frankly absurd.Beyond that, as suggested by my first post, I wholly agree with you that the teleprompter meme is in large measure a reaction against the media portrayal of both Obama and Bush as, respectively, the greatest and most inept orators of their time.

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  27. speak=speek, and peaking=peeking. Trouble with my a's and e's today, I guess.

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  28. sigh…speek=speech.

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  29. ashot:BTW…this:I don't suppose it's possible that a wide swath of people who either agreed with what Obama was saying or didn't disagree with him as strongly as you did/do…I don't recall particularly disagreeing with anything Obama said about race. I may have, but in all seriousness, I don't remember much about the speech, other than that I thought it was politically a wise move on Obama's part, but otherwise not especially insightful.

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  30. "Not this time", that's what I remember if you're looking for a few words. And I also remember knowing exactly what he was talking about. How the white experience and the black experience were so different historically and that we've made great progress, but we're still not there yet. And there are still people alive today who lived through the Civil Rights movement and are still carrying around attitudes and resentments formed during those times that are difficult to toss aside. But, you're right Scott, as a nation we were able to move beyond race in the last Presidential election and I think it does prove how far we've come.

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  31. "Of all the slurs used against Obama, I find the Teleprompter Meme the most insidious because it reaches a dark portion of the conservative soul. People respond to it at a visceral level not even realizing how their prejudices are being played. Every time I encounter it, I immediately call it out as being crypto-racist and I always face some blowback. People refuse to acknowledge the racist underpinnings of the meme. But pay attention. See how it gets used and it what context. And don't let people get away with it."You deservedly receive blowback because it is an absurd and arrogant charge that ends discussion, enhanced with the condescension of telling us what is in our the "dark portions of the conservative soul" and of how we are driven by base instincts we can't comprehend. I would suggest you look into your own soul before presuming to excavate ours. Your charge is not worth discussing beyond that.As for Obama the speaker, no, he isn't a good speaker. I've talked about this at length and in detail, and he becomes a worse and worse speaker as his administration and presidency unravel into fecklessness and defensiveness. What are his real characteristics as a speaker? He is strident, dismissive and condescending. Speaking of unconscious behavior, he habitually raises his chin to look down at people. His hands move frenetically. Substantively, he is addicted to hackish constructions about what "they" are trying to do to him, telltale cliches about what he has "always said" (dead giveaway he is lying), and meaningless generalities and doublespeak. He is addicted to lashing out at domestic enemies like no other recent Presient. No, I'm sorry, but he's not good. He can be fluid and adept, and he is always self assured, but he is a poor speaker other than in the role of demogogue, which he can often get him by with a portion of the populace.Better speakers? There are few who are good, actually. Bachmann and Romney are worlds better. Clinton was better. Paul Ryan is better. He has a sincerity and authenticity that is completely lacking in Obama. The mirage of 2008 was indeed a mirage."And while it can be argued that there is not an overtly racist interpretation of this concept, I defy anyone to explain how a theme designed solely to make the president appear far less intelligent and independent than he is does not play into racial stereotypes at some level."See George W. Bush, 2001-2008; Ronal Reagan 1981-1988. There, is that good enough?Finally, I'm going to say what must not be said, to borrow from GS: this post really is unworthy of ATiM. If you want to debate Obama's merits as a speaker or the merits of the teleprompter meme, or even say critics are stupid, that's fine, but if you want to tar conservatives as racists, there are plenty of liberal hate sites like PL that provide a forum. This isn't supposed to be one.

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  32. I am going to drive home and cool off right now. But I am quite serious in posing the question to yellojkt or anyone who would like to defend this post to explain how it meets the standards of this blog and why it should not simply be deleted. I didn't come here to discuss posts about why and how conservatives are racists. And I don't plan to participate as a contributor to a blog that traffics in this garbage.

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  33. I debated even answering this posting in the first place and wish now that I hadn't. I agree with QB, this post was unworthy. The question could have been posited like, "Hey, what's with the Teleprompter meme? He give's a great speach and everybody else uses one as well. I just don't get it?" But instead we got a "Why are you such a knuckledragging racist?" It wasn't designed to elicit a discussion but to end one.

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  34. qbI guess I'll tackle this even though I really don't want to. I agree his depiction of the dark soul of conservatives was over the top. I don't think it's a reason to delete the post because it did spark a dialogue of sorts. I have occasionally, even here, been offended by some of the less than flattering depictions of "liberals" but I prefer to argue my way out of that box. I think we could all try harder maybe, but we'll never have the perfect place for people to argue conservative vs liberal. Even among us there are still many misconceptions and even animosities regarding the other side. Yellojkt, maybe you could read the rules of engagement and temper your posts and comments a little more judiciously. We really are trying to exchange ideas without depicting the other side as evil in some way. I thought your general idea was interesting although I have to admit that I think there is probably something else going on other than a racial slur. I don't understand the teleprompter obsession and so I think it's just another conservative complaint that appeals to some segment of the population that wishes he wasn't the man standing at the podium, regardless of race.

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  35. "I am going to drive home and cool off right now. But I am quite serious in posing the question to yellojkt or anyone who would like to defend this post to explain how it meets the standards of this blog and why it should not simply be deleted."Well, arguably (and this is just my opinion) it shouldn't just be deleted because that would delete this entire thread, and the post itself does not advocate violence, genocide, or executions (my personal bugaboos, admittedly). I'd also (this may be impossible) like us, at some point, be a forum in which we do discuss things that are difficult discuss. However, it seems our choices often become: chase off QB, or chase off yellojkt. And never the twain shall meet. However, I'm not unsympathetic with your reaction. At the same time, this opinion is not unique to yellojkt (in fact, I find it wholly common, left of center) and I don't think it's unworthy of discussion. In fact, I think it's some of these difficult issues where some of the better conversations can take place. But it's hard, because race is an area around which people get offended very easily. To the point where I have bailed on the conversation, in the past. So, put bluntly, I don't have an immediate answer. I don't care for painting with broad strokes ("liberals = socialists" or "conservatives = racists"), but if I see something as racism (or crypto-racism), perhaps there's a way to say so that isn't as offensive? I don't know. I think it's worth discussing. I'm glad yellojkt made an effort to contribute. This is clearly something he thinks about a lot. I think it started off a pretty good, and reasonably balanced discussion. I don't care for the whole "appeals to the dark parts of the conservative soul", either. And a fair question is why is the insult in this case racist, when calling William Jefferson Clinton "Bubba" was not. And so on. I don't know. I think it's not a bad discussion, and finding ways to discuss race in a way that doesn't involve calling people racist (which, it seems to me, happens in pretty much *every* discussion of race) would be something worth pursuing.And all that stuff I just wrote was awesome. Delete the post, delete the thread. I'd have to vote no.

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  36. I oppose deletions. Besides, Scott's first response sums up my own reaction perfectly and it's worth keeping the post up just for that response.

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  37. McWing: "But instead we got a "Why are you such a knuckledragging racist?" It wasn't designed to elicit a discussion but to end one."I'm going to be brutally honest (this is something people typically say when they are about to lie, but I'm not, really): I tried to answer the question because I want to encourage participation, and because I've left forums over discussions like this, with similar indignation to QBs. Additionally, it is a common sentiment on the left, and if we're going to have a dialog, a discussion where we disagree most profoundly might be a good idea (or, it might not). That being said, if it was designed to end the discussion: not a great strategy. It's been the most commenty post today. I would be curious to hear a response from yellojkt to this: But instead we got a "Why are you such a knuckledragging racist?" I mean, is that what he meant to say? Did he understand it might sound that way? There is sort of a presumption to the whole idea that if I think Obama is teleprompter-dependent (fairly or not), then I'm a racist. If I don't think Obama is his own man in the presidency, I'm not just thinking that. I'm always think that's because he's black. Which begs the question, what happens when I think that about someone who's caucasian? And so on. It's a bit of mind-reading: it's telling people (very broadly) what they are thinking, or how they think. Or specifically, if you think this, it must also mean you think this. If you have issues, it must be about race.Some of this, I am convinced, has to do with age. I don't know any re-constructed racists (that I know of), and I live in the south. But, I'm 42. Folks 20 years older than me clearly have had a great deal of experience with straight up nasty-style racists, and it colors their perceptions of things like the TOTUS. But the same folks that vigorously push the teleprompter meme are the same folks helping Herman Caine surge in the polls. Whatever it's about to the vast majority of them, it's not about skin pigmentation. And, I'm rambling.

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  38. jnc4p: I oppose deletions, except in the cases mentioned (violent rhetoric directed at individuals or groups), and direct, personal, serious insults (and/or no-joking stalking). Have not noticed any of that here yet.

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  39. Kevin,There's no way to argue out of "why are you a racist?". If accused of, for example, socialism due to be a self-identified Progressive, and you feel that label is not applicable you could argue that Socialists typically believe X, Y and Z, and I do not. That would be a rational defense. However, being accused of racism, I would argue, is impossible to defend against. Explain how one could convincingly argue that you are not a racist? Or a child molester?

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  40. McWing: "I debated even answering this posting in the first place and wish now that I hadn't. I agree with QB, this post was unworthy. The question could have been posited like, "Hey, what's with the Teleprompter meme? He give's a great speach and everybody else uses one as well. I just don't get it?" BTW, I feel I may have short-shrifted your response. That was an excellent alternative way of raising the issue. But if he just can't shake the feeling that race has something to do with it, I think there should be some way he can mention it, even if others may disagree.

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  41. "jnc4p: I oppose deletions, except in the cases mentioned (violent rhetoric directed at individuals or groups), and direct, personal, serious insults (and/or no-joking stalking). Have not noticed any of that here yet. "I'd leave the post up and ban the person in the cases you mention.

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  42. "However, being accused of racism, I would argue, is impossible to defend against. Explain how one could convincingly argue that you are not a racist?"I have, to be honest, never run into that question in a context where there was any rational discussion occurring. I think one could come up with some sort of metric by which we might judge racism (and I don't mean tests where you press a button associating a given face with good or bad, but really fast, so your mistakes reveal your hidden racism). But that would involve a deep and detailed and thoughtful discussion/analysis, and generally all accusations of racism I've ever witnessed have been shallow, emotional, hyperbolic affairs. But you raise a good point. Specifically, in this context, how do you prove that your finding a number of Obama teleprompter jokes funny is completely non-racist? I find jokes like that funny about other Democrats. Yes, but this time is different, because it's Obama. But I don't like Obama for lots of reasons. Perhaps, but racists don't like black people for lots of reasons. And so on.But there are other avenues of dialog. Why do certain liberals think all conservatives are racists? Or do we suspect it's an insincere belief?

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  43. "I'd leave the post up and ban the person in the cases you mention."Well, my way is better in the long run. 😉 But, the best way is an "Ignore" button (alas, I do not have time to freshly write my own multi-author blogging software plus comments system).

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  44. Kevin, I get your desire to foster dialogue, but in my opinion the preseumtion of innate racism on the right should no longer be indulged by the right as it legitimizes the issue. There are racists in every party, but I do not continually bring up (or hear brought up) the 80 and 90 percent of the vote that HRC got in the primaries in rural Ohio, Pennslyvania, Kentucky, W. Virginia, ets. That wasn't due to, again IMO, coincidence but to racism. There is no advantage to engaging in an argument about it in that for the vast majority of voters (in either party or independents I might add) is racism an issue.Again, to argue it (as I stupidly did) is to admit that there is a legitimate point and there is not.

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  45. McWing, I think his mistake was in depicting pretty much all conservatives as racist and you could easily argue that is not the case, since it's obviously not true. Some liberals are socialists, but I'm not, I don't think I actually know any. Some conservatives are racists, but you're not, even the vast majority of you are not. Perhaps this teleprompter meme is a bit of a dog whistle to some conservatives but I really think it's just a way to demean the President, regardless of race. Honestly, I've met a few racist liberals in my day and more than a few conservative racists, but most of them are from my generation and older. As I mentioned above, those of us who lived through the Civil Rights movement and Jim Crow have notions that are much more difficult to dispel. One of the great misconceptions is that AA's were accepted in the East, the West or the Mid West to a much greater extent than in the South. Not entirely true, even though I can vouch for people in CA depicting history as very generous to themselves and how enlightened they were.

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  46. kw and lms,I respect your views as always of course. A few comments (taking the liberty of not distinguishing what you each said).What yellojkt says above is in no sense seeking reasoned discussion. It is just a blanket condemnation: if you don't agree that Obama is brilliant and a great speaker, why you are a foul KKK racist at heart. I can't imagine why anyone would feel any need to justify oneself to yellojkt or defend against the calumnies he typed. Nor does the fact that yellojkt's prejudice is shared by many liberals does not make it worth serious consideration or discussion any more than the views of hardcore racists themselves would be worth consideration. Contrary to your impression, kw, it seems clear to me that this post has not been thought about at all–not in the sense of any critical thought. It is just an expression of unexamined prejudice and ignorance of a particularly poisonous kind. To treat its seriously only gives it unwarranted credence. Thus, I would take what Troll said a step farther: not only is there no way to prove you aren't a racist, but there is no need or point even in entertaining the charge. All one does is legitimize the slander and slanderer.I'm not going to argue about deleting the post. That's fine, although it tells me something I needed to know about how others view this blog. My concern isn't that I am angry or hurt (far from it). I can mix it up with anyone, anytime, and everyone knows I can be pointed. But I don't just tar all liberals has have malignant souls, which is all this post does. My main concern is, rather, that I have no interest in helping build a collaborative blog that includes this kind of material. It is one thing for both sides to post candid views and analyses in respectful and serious terms, and was the objective as I understood it. If people are going to post and treat seriously material like this, then it just won't be a project with which I want to be associated or waste my time on. If others are okay with this kind of material or think it merits posting and discussion, that's fine, but it just might not be a place for all of us.

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  47. qb, maybe a little more cool-down time would be beneficial? Especially if you have a very busy time coming up, as you posted elsewhere. I must say that your response surprised me as a bit of an overreaction. Do you think it might be possible that all do not see this as quite as black-and-white (not sorry for the bad pun) as you do? C'mon.

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  48. qbIf you want to leave because yellojkt's first post was offensive to you, I guess that's your prerogative, I would be disappointed though. I admonished him in my polite way and suggested he think a little more about what he's posting and that was by way of a warning. I'm glad you and McWing expressed your displeasure because that helps give us guidelines going forward. Honestly, I've been a little offended a few times myself but I just try to deal with it the best way I can, by having a conversation with the person or trying to get at what they're saying. Generally, I've slightly misunderstood them, but not always. I don't think we should delete the post because this gives us a better understanding of where to go from here. I thought we were going to issue a couple of warnings first anyway. I think it's better to have some of this stuff out in the open.

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  49. Just to be clear, qb, I am not trying to suggest you should not express being offended by the post. My earlier comment was not well written but was not intended to be cavalier.

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  50. okie, I respect you, too, so will respond, although I don't plan to keep discussing this for long. I'm surprised you are surprised. Take a look at what the post says: conservatives who lampoon Obama for being teleprompter dependent are the same as KKK members and white supremacists who wrote some illiterate screed yellojkt once saw; there is no other explanation for doubters of Obama's brilliance and eloquence; conservatives are racists in the dark recesses of their hearts; and don't let them get away with it.I don't think cooling off is going to be terribly relevant here; I just don't see value in a blog where this kind of thoughtless accusation is seen as part of worthwhile discussion. I'll put it this way: I would never have my real name associated with a blog that included this sort of stuff. lms,If I or another conservative has posted something equivalent, I would be interested to know what it was. But I don't think we have. In fact, I'm quite sure we haven't.If I do not stick around, it won't be because I found this post offensive but because the blog just isn't going in a direction I think merits my participation. I did not just find it offensive; the post was written to be divisive and offensive, and it is more its treatment as a legitimate contribution that is a problem for me. I realize that you politely suggested rethinking of a post like this, but to me the correct response is much stronger than that, as in, "This is complete BS and is crafted solely to be offensive and divisive. Cut it out." Perhaps I should have just said that.The response instead suggests to me that people think the fundamental racism of conservative opposition to Obama is an idea that deserves discussion. If that is what we are going to do and accept here, then, no, I have plenty of other things to do.

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  51. Understood, okie. No worries.

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  52. people think the fundamental racism of conservative opposition to Obama is an idea that deserves discussion.Not what I was thinking when I read the comments. My take was that a discussion might be warranted on what might make some believe that conservatism = racism.Please don't paint everybody with such a broad brush if we interpret this differently than you do.

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  53. Sorry qb, that's not my style, never has been never will be. I did my best regarding the post to try to make peace between everyone. As someone who is being essentially stalked by a racist neighbor simply for supporting Obama with a sign in my yard, I'm not going to completely deny that at times there are elements of racism in criticism of the President. I don't think it's pervasive or something that should condemn all or even many conservatives, but some people are overly sensitive to it all the same. I also recognize that some liberals use it as a blanket criticism of conservatives which I heartily object to in case I wasn't clear. As yellojkt isn't here to participate in the conversation I think it's time for me to drop it, what you do is up to you.

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  54. I am sorry I put such a burr under everybody's saddle. I did not call any specific individual a racist nor did I say all conservatives are racists. I said that the teleprompter meme in particular has an underlying racist stereotype behind it that many people refuse to acknowledge. There are plenty of other valid interpretations of the trope and I provided one in my post. Rovian conservatives often paint their opponents' strengths as weaknesses. I think Obama is a powerful speaker and conservatives try to undermine it by belittling it. But in doing so they feed into a preconception that disposes some people to think certain ways.This is also visible, to a much lesser degree, in the 'show us Obama's grades' talking point as they feel this would prove that Obama was the beneficiary of affirmative action and did not deserve the achievements he accomplished.To say that there is racism is not to call everybody who agrees with racists a racist. Nor is it valuable to say people can't possibly be racist just because there are non-racist paths to the same conclusion. Anybody saying there is no racial animosity towards Obama anywhere is either being dishonest or disingenuous.

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  55. "Anybody saying there is no racial animosity towards Obama anywhere is either being dishonest or disingenuous."Nobody said that.

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  56. I'm not buying it, QB. Didn't you tell me that if I didn't like what you wrote, I didn't have to respond? Your first comment threw out absurd, arrogant, and condescension. And that's only in the first sentence! I'm only an occasional contributor here, but that's hardly what I understand to be civil engagement. Then again, it mirrors your description of Obama: strident, dismissive and condescending. I think that mirror could reflect in another direction.As for the teleprompter meme, it's simply one in a series of personal shots at Obama. I can't detect a hint of race in this particular one. It's not merely his race, but rather a sense of otherness. He does have an exotic upbringing. I don't think of this as a bad thing, but there are those who do and they vote.So be it. Meanwhile, I will suggest to you that you take the same advice that you gave to me. You can simply let some things lie.BB

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  57. Personally, I think these are good discussions to have, for what it's worth. I like to get to the heart of matters and most of the time I think that's exactly what is missing in the comment sections of most blogs. We should be throwing ideas out there and finding out what has merit and what doesn't.Thanks for coming back to face your detractors yellojkt. That's more than others do.

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  58. tao9,No, nobody here did.

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  59. lms,Just trying to be eminently reasonable.

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  60. FB, then don't buy it. Fine with me. What I said, however, was descriptive of the actual post, not just a scattershot smear of liberals. I think there's a large difference between what this post does and anything that's been posted before. The post had nothing to do with civil engagement. It was a verbal slap in the face of conservatives. If I purported to tell you there was racism or its equivalent in the dark corners of your soul, I suspect you would see it that way. yellojkt:"I did not call any specific individual a racist nor did I say all conservatives are racists."Sure you did. You started with anyone who thinks Obama is teleprompter dependent (or more generally doesn't accept your assertion of his brilliance):"And while it can be argued that there is not an overtly racist interpretation of this concept, I defy anyone to explain how a theme designed solely to make the president appear far less intelligent and independent than he is does not play into racial stereotypes at some level."And then you located this racism in "the conservative soul":"Of all the slurs used against Obama, I find the Teleprompter Meme the most insidious because it reaches a dark portion of the conservative soul. People respond to it at a visceral level not even realizing how their prejudices are being played. Every time I encounter it, I immediately call it out as being crypto-racist and I always face some blowback.""There are plenty of other valid interpretations of the trope and I provided one in my post. Rovian conservatives often paint their opponents' strengths as weaknesses." No, you are doing spin control again. You said that, while this "meme" could be written off to GOP Big Lie tactics, "it also ties into the deeper racial subtext that somehow Obama is a fraud and a puppet. The sheer virulence and perseverance of The Teleprompter meme shows that it somehow resonates with the conservative base who see Obama's presidency as being at some level illegitimate."There it is again. It is racism that "resonates with the conservative base." When you call people racists, at least have the guts to own up to what you said. It's nothing new. I've heard this same garbage for years, from freshman seminars on.I don't know where you were from 2001-08, when liberal Democrats daily pilloried a graduate of Yale (with better grades than Al Gore) and Harvard Business School as a dolt, when Dkos kept an entire archive of their favorite names for Bush like Smirky Chimphitler, when Nancy Pelosi acidly told MTP that Bush was a "failure" at everything he'd ever tried. It was an endless daily torrent, and inexplicable without race in your world.I'm finished addressing your pseudo-intellectual antiracism bull. It contributes nothing to anything.

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  61. yellojkt:In think the charge of racism against criticism or questioning of Obama is itself racist. It betrays a sense that, because of his race, Obama is not up to the normal political slings and arrows that are routinely thrown at anyone who occupies the Oval Office. Bush's grades were sought out by his critics to demonstrate his lack academic seriousness. But, because he is black, no one can question Obama's grades, lest they be called racist for doing so? This variant on the soft bigotry of low expectations reaches into the dark recesses of the liberal soul. Many of them don't even know how racist they are being, but I think it should be called out as the malignancy that it is. Obama is a politician equal to any white politician, and is equally able to withstand the rough and tumble of normal politics. He doesn't need special protection from criticism, questions, and mockery just because he is black. To think he does is, it must be said, no less racist than the notion he can't do the job just because he is black.

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  62. I have no animus v. our President. I disagree with most of his political views. It happens, we're a republic.Perhaps this is because I am, as they say, of a certain age, but I have never understood the habit of his supporters of elevating his intellect, and certainly his pre-presidential record, to some kind of towering, ineffable prospect.To be honest, the politician he reminds me the most of (in the ideological obverse) is Nixon.Shrewd, yes. A gifted, very high intelligence with wisdom and soul? Oh, please.Otherness and an exotic upbringing are only post-modern accoutrements. No one, especially conservatives, ought to give a damn about them, one way or the other.I doubt the actual stone-racists who can't abide with Mr. Obama due to his ethnicity number more than 5% of the voting public. And no jambed up poll will convince me otherwise.Want to know why? Because I have more confidence in the American polity than the shrieking, usual suspect Orcs over at PL.I actually like about all of the people I meet out in my city, and my country. Imagine that?

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  63. BTW: Mark Twain, that old Huck (heh) would have eviscerated Mr. Obama (and so many others).Mencken would have been the subject of a three or four Holder/DOJ suits by now, with the main investigated allegations appearing first at Politico.

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  64. lms:We should be throwing ideas out there and finding out what has merit and what doesn't.The notion that the teleprompter mocking of Obama is at its base an appeal to racist stereotyping has no merit whatsoever. None.

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  65. Racist Herman Cain goes with the teleprompter meme, clearly appealing to the base instincts of reprobate conservative racist souls.

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  66. scottI agree that I didn't find his teleprompter meme compelling, I said as much above. But what I do find compelling is where some of this comes from and how we engage each other on these kind of themes. I don't think we should shy away from them and I was actually glad that qb and McWing brought it up, also stated above. The racism charge is prevalent in dialogue between both sides and I think it helps to understand what basis people find for it so we can or not dispel some of the charges.I agree with you that Obama is a big boy and I find it interesting that he seems much less concerned with race issues than some of his supporters.

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  67. That should read "I agree and"

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  68. ScottC,Obama is a big boy (now there is a racially charged word) and can take care of himself. He is the president, the highest elective office in the country, and he got there either despite his race or because of it, dealer's choice.I would love to see Obama's grades. I've seen Perry's and I've seen Bush's. Both prove how far you can get with academic records that would barely get you an entry level position in today's job market. There are a lot of things to mock Obama about. He is overly professorial. He is dorkily square (pictures of him riding a bicycle as a case in point). He has big ears. None of these are racially charged.Other things, such as calling him a Kenyan (even though his father was from Kenya), or portraying him as a witch doctor, or branding him as a Muslim are racist and beyond the pale.I am positing that the teleprompter meme is the latter rather than the former but reasonable people can disagree. Here is the litmus test: Is it wrong to portray Obama as a monkey especially since Bush was frequently portrayed as one? If you answer 'no', there is no way you will ever get my point.

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  69. Right now I'd say both scott and qb are trying to end a discussion, so I think I'll head off to bed. Night all.

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  70. Scott: "This variant on the soft bigotry of low expectations reaches into the dark recesses of the liberal soul"Heh. An excellent rhetorical riposte. Your entire comment, in fact, was one of my personal favorites thus far. 🙂

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  71. yellojkt, I was the one paraphrasing scott's words by calling Obama a big boy.

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  72. qb,If you say so. I haven't fully formulated my thoughts on the appeal of Herman Cain yet, but he does overtly pander to the furthest right portion of the GOP. lms,You corked me with the phrase 'big boy'. My use of it was not any sort of rebuttal to yours.

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  73. There is no discussion. There is only an accusation of racist motive, after which broadbrush ad hominem come only exchanges of declarations. But in any event, I am also off to bed and done being diverted by this nonsense. If I want to read insults and accusations, I'll just go to dkos or PL.

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  74. "If you say so."No, I didn't say so, you did. Herman Cain is an anti-black racist according to your argument. He's as good as in the KKK, whose thoughts live on in his words. You said that. Not me.Hence my reference to your post as nonsense.

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. lms:The racism charge is prevalent in dialogue between both sides The racism charge is pretty much exclusively a liberal charge levelled at conservatives. It is not prevalent at all on both sides.

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  77. Repost to correct grammar:kw,That is a good turn of phrase and there is a little bit of defensiveness in liberals defending the privacy of Obama's records. However, few candidates ever voluntarily release their academic records. There is no upside in doing so. If the grades are sterling, they feed an image of elitism and aloofness. If they are bad, they raise the question of how the candidate got where he (or she) did, whether through cronyism or affirmative action.

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  78. Scott,If that is so, it's because racist conservatives (note the modifier) are so much overt about it. Liberal racism (if such a thing is not an oxymoron and for the sake of argument I will allow that it exists) is a much subtler phenomenon. And that is not to excuse the tactics of people like Al Sharpton who use the mantle of racism as a shield against their own onerous practices and beliefs.

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  79. yello:I am positing that the teleprompter meme is the latter rather than the former but reasonable people can disagree.For reasons I have already stated (and you have not challenged), it is not the latter. And, no, reasonable people cannot disagree. The suggestion that it is a racist at all, much less on the order of pictures of Obama as a witch doctor is so unreasonable it deserves to be laughed it, if it weren't such an ugly and malicious charge.Here is the litmus test: Is it wrong to portray Obama as a monkey especially since Bush was frequently portrayed as one?Litmus test for what? Right thinking people?In any event, yes. And it was wrong to portray Bush as one as well.But of course portraying blacks as simians has a long, well known and established tradition as a racist stereotype. Portraying blacks as overly reliant on teleprompters? You've got to be kidding. Only the tortured thinking of someone intent on finding racial ill will at all costs would make the suggestion. It is absurd.But of course

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  80. The use of the term "racism" has become so broad as to be essentially meaningless these days.

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  81. yello:If that is so, it's because racist conservatives (note the modifier) are so much overt about it. No, it is so because it has been an easy way for liberals to shut down disagreement and to keep a monopoly on black votes.Liberal racism (if such a thing is not an oxymoron…Of course it isn't. It could be just a visceral thing without them even knowing how their prejudices are being played out. But people who seek to use Obama's race as an excuse for why he shouldn't be treated like any other President are racists indeed.

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  82. Portraying blacks as overly reliant on teleprompters? Yes. That is exactly what the tract I read 20 years ago, long before Obama reached the national stage, was asserting with no ambiguity. It said that blacks were incapable of understanding what they were reading when on television and that they were little more than trained monkeys dressed up in suits. It is absurd to believe this but someone did believe it, published it, and distributed it. There are people that racist. And I use the word 'racist' in the context of believing that some races (as defined by the racist) are inferior to other races. And yes, I agree with tao9 that the hardcore believers in such thoughts are well below 5%. Perhaps below 1%. But there is a subtext that colors broader opinions. I hear people say inadvertently racist things every day. Heck, Biden called Obama 'articulate and bright and clean', words that in some contexts are deeply offensive. The teleprompter meme feeds into a belief that somehow Obama can't possibly be as bright as he is made out to be (and the Messiah image some pundits thrust upon him doesn't do him any favors) can reinforce latent racism in people not even aware they are harboring it.

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  83. At PL,this:bernielatham5:53 AM CDTThere was a smart fellow on O'Donnell's show last night who contrasted Cain with Obama and Colin Powell (he didn't include Condi or Thomas but could have). Where the others are really very serious characters with challenging intellects and significant accomplishments, Cain, he said, falls more within the traditions of black minstrel. And that's right.RecommendReportThat has to be the most timely evidence of the sort of selective use of condescending stereotypes, by at least some liberals, that causes many of us, I think ALL of us here, to gag.I posted:Not a shot at you, but most certainly a criticism of that stereotyping: Cain grew up in Georgia[20] and graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. Accepted for graduate studies at Purdue, Cain received a Masters in computer science there in 1971,[21] while he also worked full-time as a ballistics analyst for the U.S. Department of the Navy.[22] He also was chair of the Fed Reserve Bank of KC. Not a musician.

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  84. yello:I hear people say inadvertently racist things every day. I'm sure that is true. For example, when someone suggests that we should treat Obama differently than any other president when criticizing or mocking him, just because of his race, I'm sure the implied racism is wholly inadvertant. The teleprompter meme feeds into a belief that somehow Obama can't possibly be as bright as he is made out to be…I don't think he he can be, and it has nothing to do with his race.…can reinforce latent racism in people not even aware they are harboring it. I see. They aren't aware of the racism they harbor, but you are. Some day you'll have to tell us how you came by your amazing ability to read other people's minds.In any event, if you harbor latent racist thoughts that bother you, well, that is a problem you should address. But you probably shouldn't assume that others share the same failing.

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  85. Mark:I'd like to say I am surprised, but I have seen Bernie do similar things before. Again, he seems to have almost no capacity for introspection at all.

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  86. Mark, I found bernie's response to yours quoted above even more humorous.I am struck by the chord this post has struck. Perhaps we all could do with some introspection. It certainly has me thinking. I think it is key for everybody not to just dig in their heels. BTW, Scott, did you put up a new post for a nanosecond this morning on this topic and then delete it?Off to work. Hope all have a great and prosperous day.

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  87. Sorry about "struck" twice in same sentence. It's what you get in the morning from an admitted caffeine addict who has not yet had coffee.

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  88. okie:I did, but it was meant to include a video, which didn't seem to work, so I deleted it. If I can educate myself on how to properly include a video in a post, I will repost it.

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  89. FYI, Scott, the video did work for me; it did not show in the frame but it worked if you clicked on it. But not sure about the wisdom of that as a top post to continue this discussion. I personally would prefer the discussion continue on a somewhat different level. Just me.

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  90. It's easy, at least for those of us not ideologically blinded, to recall the eight-year meme of the idiot Bush who was a pawn of Karl Rove, aka "Bush's Brain." But I had forgotten how that meme reached a fevered pitch when Democrats accused Bush of having an in-ear microphone so that Rove could feed him debate answers.http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/10/obamas-reliance-on-teleprompters/Pure racism, qed.Those old enough to remember know that Reagan was routinely mocked as nothing more than a dunce who was good at reading speeches written by people who were actually literate. (It came as a shock to them, and one still unacknowledged by many, that his personal writings showed him to be lucid and eloquent.)"The teleprompter meme feeds into a belief that somehow Obama can't possibly be as bright as he is made out to be (and the Messiah image some pundits thrust upon him doesn't do him any favors) can reinforce latent racism in people not even aware they are harboring it."Your belief that you constantly hear people who are unaware of their "latent racism" say racist things has more to do with your own psyche than theirs. And no one could possibly be as brilliant and omnimpotent as Obama was proclaimed to be. That image wasn't thrust upon him. It was his entire campaign, the campaing of Obama Exceptionalism. Perhaps if you stopped imagining you know the subconscious thoughts of other people you'd pay more attention to what people actually say.

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  91. scottI don't understand why you objected to this from meMe: "The racism charge is prevalent in dialogue between both sides"You: "The racism charge is pretty much exclusively a liberal charge levelled at conservatives. It is not prevalent at all on both sides."And then turn around and prove the point I was trying to make.But people who seek to use Obama's race as an excuse for why he shouldn't be treated like any other President are racists indeedAnd okie got to the point I was trying to make last night re discussion better than I could so maybe that's why I was misunderstood.

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  92. lms:And then turn around and prove the point I was trying to make.I was trying to make a point myself, about how easy it is to see and accuse virtually anyone of racism if we are intent upon doing so.And I stand by what I said to you. The charge of racism is almost exclusively a liberal one leveled at conservatives, my attempts here to get yello to see the errors of his ways notwithstanding.

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  93. Yikes. I go to the Doctor's office for an afternoon and hand out candy for Halloween and this is what I miss. I disagree with countless things said by yello, Scott and QB. It looks like the storm has subsided so I'll let it go at that. Like lmsinca, I wish racism or charges of racism could be discussed in a more civil matter, but apparently it can't be so let's just avoid it.

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  94. scottMaybe that's true for you but we hear it all the time nonetheless. I'm not accusing you of anything just proving my point that the entire issue is worthy of discussion, difficult as it may be.

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  95. ashot, we agree and then reach entirely different conclusions. It's a touchy subject for both sides isn't it?

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  96. lms:It's a touchy subject for both sides isn't it?I know why it is a touchy issue for conservatives. But why is it a touchy issue for liberals?

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  97. "And then turn around and prove the point I was trying to make."Not a shot at you, lms (to go with the trope of the moment), but this is what I find interesting and telling in this thread. Scott posted two comments that ironically turned yellojkt's presumptuous racism-sniffing against him to make a point, and the point seems to have gone right over the heads of the liberals in the discussion. When someone presumes to say, "I know you are a secret racist even if you don't," it isn't the beginning of any discussion beyond, at best, "Oh really, well I know you are the secret racist."It was an obvious rejoinder to conservatives who are used to being on the receiving end of these arrogant — no, I'm not going to stop saying that — accusations, but I was curious to see whether anyone on the other side would get the point, and it appears no one did, even after Scott's second demonstration.But to reiterate, what exactly is the value of any of this discussion? Zero. Attacking conservatives for "latent racism" is cheap sport and self-congratulation for liberals at best, malicious political calculation at worst. A generation or two has been indoctrinated in college to believe this thoughtless nonsense is "critical thinking." It's normally the same people who delight in attacking Clarence Thomas as a stupid and unqualified sexual predator. There's no real point to a response that amounts to more than "up yours," which has the same intellectual content as the charge itself.

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  98. That should probably say, "To conservatives used to being on the receiving end, it was an obvious rejoinder…"My syntax is fractured when I rush.

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  99. qb, I hate to disillusion you but scott's comment didn't go over my head. And apparently I need to remind you both that I did not agree with yellojkt's claim re the teleprompter meme. All I'm saying is there are still issues regarding race that are unresolved on both sides of the political divide. I'm willing to entertain the thought that some liberals use racism as an excuse to criticize conservatives and am actually sensitive to Scott's point. I think it's a worthy endeavor to explore why yellojkt sees grades and teleprompters as some sort of covert racial slur. I also believe it's valid to attempt to understand why conservatives throw back at liberals some sort of reverse racism accusation. It's not as if scott's the first person to bring it up ever.I don't think either of you appears to be willing to explore these opinions though so I'm going to drop it.

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  100. "But why is it a touchy issue for liberals?"Because sometimes liberals want to discuss the issue of racism and the role it playes in our politics and most efforts to do so are usually met with "you're playing the race card" "how dare you call me a racist" "you can't criticize Obama without being called a racist" etc. In this case there is some (actuall a lot of) truth to those comments, but I don't think that's always or necessarily often the case. I think Scott's initial response was the appropriate response: "I disagree, I think the motivation is the media" or whatever.

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  101. lms:I also believe it's valid to attempt to understand why conservatives throw back at liberals some sort of reverse racism accusation.It's not that complicated, and the word "back" above is useful in seeing why. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

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  102. lms:I don't think either of you appears to be willing to explore these opinions though I am happy to explore anything, lms. Hence my question about why it's a touchy subject for liberals.

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  103. Scott; "I know why it is a touchy issue for conservatives. But why is it a touchy issue for liberals?"Another (very) good question. But it clearly is. When I've asked what qualifies as racism (it's often characterized as some form of not caring about "brown people", which I'm always tempted to deconstruct because the frequency where people actually object to variations in skin pigmentation seems vanishingly small to me), I've had liberals get extremely angry. I mean, angrier than QB sounds like he is, even if he's not actually. ;)From the opposite side, it seems to me that trying to clarify what we're talking about when we're talking about racism is interpreted as racist. I also get a sense that suggesting that racism is not as virulent or predominant as some may think, and that it's not married to a particular ideology, and that wanting to do things like roll back entitlements can be seen as something other than racism . . . I've got a sense that such things are interpreted by some on the left as assert that there is no racism, there has never racism, that it's all a lie and, specifically, that the person I'm talking to has never experienced racism or discrimination directly. And if that's the interpretation, I guess I can see why someone would get touchy, although I've never thought that was a particularly fair interpretation. qb: "and the point seems to have gone right over the heads of the liberals in the discussion."What would have demonstrated that the comment did not, in fact, go over the heads of liberals in the discussion? " I think it's a worthy endeavor to explore why yellojkt sees grades and teleprompters as some sort of covert racial slur. I also believe it's valid to attempt to understand why conservatives throw back at liberals some sort of reverse racism accusation."Yeah, I'm with lmsinca on this. I understand why people feel that talking about something is accepting the premise, but, frankly, I can reject the premise of something without taking off my microphone and walking out of the studio (to be sure, I've done the latter, as well!). It's not like yellojkt's opinion or interpretation is uncommon. And, frankly, some may just accept the leap from racist screed at the ATM to jokes about teleprompters as being something liberals do because they hate conservatives. I think there's probably a reason, and the reasons are probably not (I suspect) very good, and drawing them out may reveal that. Not saying it will, just that I'd be interested in how the leap is made. In my opinion, it's leaping a chasm. It ignores a great deal of available data in regards to how presidents and politicians are always treated by the opposite side. Yet it is a common assertion on the left (not universal, but common). Yet isn't there clearly a Grand Canyon sided gap between the racist screeds of some fringe group, and jokes about a president and his supposed teleprompter dependence, when that president happens to be (by, BTW, the old, racist "one drop" rule) African American. "I don't think either of you appears to be willing to explore these opinions"Seems to me Scott has been as willing to engage, despite completely rejecting the premise, as anybody. That being said, this post and QB's reaction make me wonder what my own reaction would be if someone asserted that while there are many, many exceptions, we have to confess that, as a group, African-Americans are lazy and shiftless. At least, they are tempted to these things in the darker parts of their African-American souls. Wouldn't I be agitating to delete that post? I think I would. I'm not saying what yellojkt did was precisely the same, but I think it's a useful thought experiment for me.

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  104. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."Do you actually think it is the result of reverse racism or are is this just an adult version of "I'm rubber you're glue?"

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  105. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."Exactly, and then the conversation devolves into another one of those "which came first the chicken or the egg", rather than exploring racial attitudes. Liberals are just as sensitive to "playing the race card" as conservatives are to the charge of being "racist" so it's a never ending circle down the drain. I think it's more important to explore where these memes come from and how do we move beyond them than continue the back and forth insults. I met my best friend a little over 32 years ago. We were thrown together as next door neighbors, both pregnant, whose husbands were gone about 12 hours a day. Neither of us had any family around to speak of and we became instant friends. She's black and I'm white. While we had no problem becoming friends, it took us about 5 years to really understand each other. I thought she had a chip on her shoulder, the size of a boulder, and she thought I suffered from white liberal guilt and was trying to overcompensate by having a black friend. We laugh about our misconceptions now.

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  106. ashot:Do you actually think it is the result of reverse racism or are is this just an adult version of "I'm rubber you're glue?" Sorry…do I think what is the result of reverse racism? I'm not sure what you mean. What I am sure of is that, however liberals define racism for their own purposes, they ought not be exempt from examination under those same assumptions, as far too many liberals…including it seems yello (with his apparent doubt that "liberal racism" could be anything other than an oxymoron)…seem to hold themselves.

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  107. Scott: "But of course portraying blacks as simians has a long, well known and established tradition as a racist stereotype. Portraying blacks as overly reliant on teleprompters? You've got to be kidding. Only the tortured thinking of someone intent on finding racial ill will at all costs would make the suggestion"BTW, Scott, again, I gotta second that. Clear and obvious distinctions. yellojkt: I'm unfamiliar with the assertion that African American's reading from teleprompters is because of some natural genetic inferiority. I have to second Scott: I'm familiar with the racial overtones of depicting someone as a monkey, among many other things, but the teleprompter thing as being somehow racial is entirely new to me. Which begs the question: leave the teleprompter out of it. I'm going to assert that Obama isn't that bright, spent a lot of time doing drugs in his youth,did a very bad job of managing that baseball team he owned (and, frankly, was known to provide drugs for the team members, lets be honest, there's no evidence but that's entirely credible) and now it's known, by everybody, that he lacked gravitas (that's why he had to team up with Joe Biden) and it's really actually David Axelrod and Joe Biden doing everything behind the scenes; Obama is essentially a spokesperson, or puppet, for Axelrod and Biden. Is that assertion racist because it's about Obama? If not, why not? If so, given that was a common liberal interpretation of George W. Bush (not that you hadn't already figured that out), is there any criticism of past presidents, liberal or otherwise, that won't be racist? And how can we identify what is acceptable, or what is racist, and what is not? I mean, there seems to me to be a great deal of ambiguity here, allowing any criticism to fall under a very broad heading of racism. If the coded racism is confined to teleprompters–how do we identify that? I see a huge difference between the teleprompter joke above, and stuff like Obama Bucks, which, despite depicting Obama surrounded by watermelon and fried chicken, the woman who sent it out said she didn't see how it was racists. "It's just food to me."

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  108. Do you think liberals "play the race card" so to speak, out of reverse racism?"What I am sure of is that, however liberals define racism for their own purposes, they ought not be exempt from examination under those same assumptions"This I completely agree with assuming the person calling for the examination is doing so out of an actual belief that racism is motivating the liberal's perspective. If you're calling for such an examination merely out of spite, then please, kindly refrain. I can find that sort of commenting back and forth back at the PL. The same goes for posters suggesting racism is a hidden factor in a given conservative thought or action. If your motivations are anything other a sincere belief that they are, go elswhere. If your belief is sincere you better bring a whole lot of support as to why.

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  109. BTW: I don't like the concept of reverse-racism. It implies (to me) that racism is something white Americans do to minorities, and that it's a caucasian foible rather than a human one. Read Thomas Sowell's Race and Culture for some insight into how untrue that is. Or just talk to the ethnic Chinese in Maylasia. 😉 I think there's just racism. If you don't like me for cultural reasons associated with my ethnicity, you are a racist, at least in that regards. You're not a reverse-racist. You're not Bizarro Superman to my Superman. You're just a racist, and the expression of prejudice based on ethnicity is just racism.

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  110. lms:Exactly, and then the conversation devolves into another one of those "which came first the chicken or the egg", Well, in the case at hand it doesn't need to devolve very far. When someone initiates a post out of the blue asserting that some veiled racism is founded in or appeals to a "dark portion of the conservative soul", there isn't much room for doubt about how this conversation got started.rather than exploring racial attitudes.What racial attitudes would you like to explore?

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  111. Hearing and dealing with race in the employment law context has both made me acutely aware of perceived racial sleights and actual race based decisions, and slow to judge, because the actual facts are often quite different than the reported perceptions.I momentarily considered whether or not to detail a current matter as a hypothetical in a post. I would have to very greatly disguise it, and discretion tells me not to publish a word about it. Maybe next year.

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  112. Scott: "When someone initiates a post out of the blue asserting that some veiled racism is founded in or appeals to a "dark portion of the conservative soul", there isn't much room for doubt about how this conversation got started."I think lmsinca was referring more broadly to the ongoing discussion of racism and the clear disagreements people generally have around the issue of race, rather than this specific conversation.yellojkt did not invent the idea that racist appeals are somehow attractive to conservatives because, for some reason, we're naturally racist because, you know, we don't agree with them about stuff (I'm sorry, that really is, I'm sure, minimizing the position of folks who believe there is some sort of intrinsic and ongoing relationship between racism and conservatism, generally, but that's just how it sounds to me). Then, there were the Obama Bucks, the racist Obama comic book, and a few other overtly racist bits and pieces coming from folks who are ostensibly conservatives (and who deny there is anything racist about depicting Obama as a witch doctor). Those things existed before yellojkts comment. That being said, I'm gonna touch back on the previous comment from yellojktt:"Here is the litmus test: Is it wrong to portray Obama as a monkey especially since Bush was frequently portrayed as one?"I find this interesting. We say that it is wrong, because of the generally understood racism in depicting someone with African American heritage as having simian characteristics. But it's fine with George W. Bush. I'm not saying that racism doesn't make a thing worse, but I am curious as to exactly why something is worse when, other than the racism, it is exactly the same. And how much worse does it make it. I mean, is it just super-awesome free speech and the height of humor to depict Bush as a monkey, but a punishable offense to depict Obama similarly? If not, then how bad is it to depict Bush as a monkey, versus how bad is it to depict Obama as a monkey, and how do we decide on the exact level of badness, one versus the other? Is it perhaps advisable not to depict people as monkeys, period? BTW, I may be in the minority, but I find these questions extremely interesting (and they have also gotten me called a racist by certain lefties, in the past).

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  113. ashot:Do you think liberals "play the race card" so to speak, out of reverse racism?I think various liberals do it for various reasons. Some are genuinely uninformed or unthinking or ideologically blind enough to believe that conservatism is at its root racist. Some use it simply to gain a political advantage. Some use it to put an end to inconvenient discussions/arguments. There are probably other motivations as well.If you're calling for such an examination merely out of spite…I wasn't calling for anything. As I explained to lms above, I was attempting to get yellow to see his own folly by showing that his elusive and vague notions of what constitutes racism could esily be turned against even him. I don't see anything wrong with that.BTW, just for clarification, what I ascribed to yello was not "reverse racism" at all. It was regular old racism, ie the notion that blacks should be treated differently from whites because of their color.

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  114. "BTW, just for clarification, what I ascribed to yello was not "reverse racism" at all. It was regular old racism, ie the notion that blacks should be treated differently from whites because of their color."Yeah, I agree. I don't think reverse racism really exists.

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  115. "BTW, I may be in the minority, but I find these questions extremely interesting (and they have also gotten me called a racist by certain lefties, in the past)."BTW, I find these questions extremely interesting as well and I've been called a government tit sucking socialist by certain righties in the past. But, I think we can dispense with those depictions here at least. Although I agree yellojkt may not have been ultimately successful in not doing that based upon the response he received from everyone, I'm still curious about the reasons he believes it. I'd also be interested in knowing what mark knows based upon his work or why, since we reformed welfare in the 90's ostensibly to make it more advantageous for minorities and poor people to embrace work, the situation hasn't improved. Or what everyone thinks are the reasons for such high unemployment in the AA community or why the prison system is disproportionately filled with AA males.

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  116. "and I've been called a government tit sucking socialist by certain righties in the past"That sounds kinky. And I'm pretty sure at least a part of that was the title of this movie I saw once . . . "I'd also be interested in knowing what mark knows based upon his work or why"Me, too, but I understand why he's hesitant to talk about anything he's been involved with legally. As for the rest, I'm also interested as to what others think.

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  117. kevin:I think lmsinca was referring more broadly to the ongoing discussion of racism and the clear disagreements people generally have around the issue of race, rather than this specific conversation.Sure, but this specific conversation is a fairly typical example, I think. And, that being the case, I don't think the "chicken and egg" analogy is all that apt.

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  118. A couple of things, first, it's my understanding that "reverse racism" is a term coined by conservatives (correct me if I'm wrong) and two, I was trying to steer the conversation away from who's more racist, conservatives or liberals, to more pertinent issues of race. Even when I agree with you scott, in a general sense, you still manage to find something to criticize in the way I said it, lol.

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  119. "I wasn't calling for anything. As I explained to lms above, I was attempting to get yellow to see his own folly by showing that his elusive and vague notions of what constitutes racism could esily be turned against even him."That's an excellent evasive answer. The comment I responded to was the following: "What I am sure of is that, however liberals define racism for their own purposes, they ought not be exempt from examination under those same assumptions, as far too many liberals…" That seems to pretty clearly be a statement in a broader context than just this post by one poster. It also seems to be saying liberals should be examined under those same assumptions. So I disagree that you weren't calling for something and that your comments were aimed at yelo as opposed to a broader context. My point, and you sort of indirectly answered it, was that if you are calling it racism to "show someone" something, I can find that sort of dialogue anywhere. In fact, I find such a comment, and QB's finger wagging that liberals missed it, incredibly condescending. In contrast, if you sincerely believe that yelo's comment is demonstrated in his/her own racist or bigoted beliefs then it's a fair question to ask. I think to some extent this entire comment thread demonstrates the different purposes people have for posting to blogs. I'm far more interested in hearing why someone believes what they believe than explaining to them why they are wrong. You and QB seem more interested in the later than the former.

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  120. lms:A couple of things, first, it's my understanding that "reverse racism" is a term coined by conservatives (correct me if I'm wrong)Could be…I have no idea.I was trying to steer the conversation away from who's more racist, conservatives or liberals,I didn't think we were headed towards such a conversation. But for the record I don't think either are particularly racist as a group.…to more pertinent issues of race. Like what? I asked you above which racial attitudes you'd like to explore. I am still interested.

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  121. I think Scott's initial response was the appropriate response: "I disagree, I think the motivation is the media" or whatever.Scott's response was fine if not as forceful as mine. Once again, this post says: it is racist, without other explanation or exception, to say that Obama is teleprompter dependent or not as brilliant as yellojkt claims he is. I goes farther to say that conservatives — all of them — are racist by virtue of being conservatives, because racism abides in the dark corners of the "conservative soul." And I don't care how yellojkt wants to try to walk it back. That's what the post says.An equally appropriate response is one that simply calls it out for the pure jack***ery it is, and is utterly dismissive and refuses to give it the time of day. You will hear no "I am not a racist" pleas from me.

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  122. "You will hear no "I am not a racist" pleas from me."Nor should you need to do so and I hope you are never "asked" to do so again at this blog.Also, on my post above, the fact that you and Scott have what I perceive as different goals for posting here is not a criticism. It does, however, impact how you post and how you read posts and how I post and how I read posts.

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  123. In fact, I find such a comment, and QB's finger wagging that liberals missed it, incredibly condescending.Unfortunate, but in fact there was no sign of recognition from your side that you got Scott's point. I respectfully doubt that you do even now."I'm far more interested in hearing why someone believes what they believe than explaining to them why they are wrong. You and QB seem more interested in the later than the former."I am not interested in hearing why anyone believes I am a racist, you are right about that.

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  124. lms,I also believe it's valid to attempt to understand why conservatives throw back at liberals some sort of reverse racism accusation.Answer 1: because they are human. Why do people fight back when attacked?Answer 2: because it shows how self-contradictory and arbitrary liberal accusations and race theory are. Exactly, and then the conversation devolves into another one of those "which came first the chicken or the egg", rather than exploring racial attitudes.Nothing devolved here, and there is no chicken and egg problem. This started as it always does, with someone saying conservatives are racists.Liberals are just as sensitive to "playing the race card" as conservatives are to the charge of being "racist" so it's a never ending circle down the drain.I know that you want to seek common ground, but this is not true. These race discussions always start with a yellojkt making uninhibited and unthinking accusations of racism against conservatives.I think it's more important to explore where these memes come from and how do we move beyond them than continue the back and forth insults.I said from the start that this kind of consciously offensive and baseless accusation serves no purpose but its intended one of offending and dividing. Trying to reason with an insult is silly. I don't think either of you appears to be willing to explore these opinions thoughUnlike Scott, no, I am not willing to explore the opinion that conservatives are racists. And I understand enough to satisfy myself about why people like to make the charge.

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  125. scott, I thought I answered your question at least in part above. I also thought the question of depicting Obama as a monkey was an interesting one, (I agreed with kevin there) regarding why it's mean and nasty in regards to Bush but racist in regards to Obama. There are all sorts of issues around race other than the "conservatives are racist" but so are "liberals" conversations, as neither one is true for the large part of our citizenship.I'd also be interested in knowing what mark knows based upon his work or why, since we reformed welfare in the 90's ostensibly to make it more advantageous for minorities and poor people to embrace work, the situation hasn't improved. Or what everyone thinks are the reasons for such high unemployment in the AA community or why the prison system is disproportionately filled with AA males.

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  126. "Unfortunate, but in fact there was no sign of recognition from your side that you got Scott's point. I respectfully doubt that you do even now."You and Scott pretty clearly are the ones missing the point. Scott's point is that yelo's argument is baseless and so ambiguous that is can be used to imbue racism into countless arguments. It's so baseless and ambiguous that you can even use it against yelo as applied to his own argument. I did not explicitly acknowledge that, although I repeatedly tried to determine if Scott also really thinks liberal racism is at the root of this argument or if he was merely turning yelo's argument around to prove how baseless and ambiguous it is. If it's the former I'm interested in why he thinks that is the case. If it's the later I think it is the sort of thing we are trying to avoid here and see commonly at the PL. You and Scott seem to interpret that as me missing the point.

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  127. Lastly, KW:What would have demonstrated that the comment did not, in fact, go over the heads of liberals in the discussion?Hard to say in the absence of such a response, but one might have been, "I see what you are trying to do, Scott, but …" But the response of lms that Scott had just proved her point seemed to me to show she had missed it. She says no, she got it. Fine. I'm still not sure, but what would you say demonstrated that anyone got the point at which Scott was brilliantly driving? Did I miss it?From the opposite side, it seems to me that trying to clarify what we're talking about when we're talking about racism is interpreted as racist. I also get a sense that ….KW, you are good man, but let me try to cut through all this. You can go on analyzing and pondering why liberals try to tar conservatives this way forever. But in the end, liberals who behave this way are simply devotees of an ideology that defines their opposition as racist (and sexist and classist etc.). If you don't accept their world view, you are by definition a racist, because the world (viz: USA) is racist, except for those enlightened people who recognize it and thus share their ideology. See that? The world is divided between the conscious and unconscious racists on one hand and enlightened liberals on the other. Racism not only lurks in the souls of nonliberals but is pervasive and "societal" or "structural." Thus, it is racist to resist whatever diagnoses and prescriptions the liberal makes. Opposition to Obama is racist because all moral people should support a black President. Opposition to affirmative action is racist, because it is necessary to overcome structural and unconscious racism. Once you start accepting any of this baloney as a basis for discussion, you have embarked on a pointless and endless cycle of being accused and diagnosed, because resistance is definitionally racist. You are in denial, and they are like conspiracy theorists. Evidence is irrelevant. I'll again recall being called an unconscious racist by a very wealthy and privileged black classmate, since I refused to acknowledge the great advantages I had had growing up poor and white in the middle of nowhere compared to him. He was a perfectly nice guy otherwise. I laughed and walked away, and realized then and there that there is no point trying to reason with anyone who goes around spouting this stuff.

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  128. I did not explicitly acknowledge that, although I repeatedly tried to determine if Scott also really thinks liberal racism is at the root of this argument or if he was merely turning yelo's argument around to prove how baseless and ambiguous it is.Scott can speak for himself, but it seems clear to me that Scott was showing how baseless yello's argument is, not that he was endorsing it.To me it is telling that you take some sort of offense at this as opposed to the original post itself. What it is telling of is that you still don't really appreciate the import of the post in comparison to the responses and discussion replies.

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  129. The world is divided between the conscious and unconscious racists on one hand and enlightened liberals on the other. Racism not only lurks in the souls of nonliberals but is pervasive and "societal" or "structural." Thus, it is racist to resist whatever diagnoses and prescriptions the liberal makes. Opposition to Obama is racist because all moral people should support a black President. Opposition to affirmative action is racist, because it is necessary to overcome structural and unconscious racism.I must not be a very good liberal then, because I don't believe any of that crap.

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  130. I can tell you with complete certainty that many — as I said, those who behave this way — do. Take a look at what has been taught in colleges for the past 30 years, or go listen to some campus arguments about race. This is how it works. Yello's post is a perfect example.

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  131. I don't take offense to Scott's post in the sense that it asks if liberals are racist, while ignoring yelo's accusations that conservatives are racist. I take offense in that it does nothing to further our understanding of each other's positions. You don't want to have any further understanding, that's clear, but it seems as if Scott did. Maybe I'm being picky, but I particularly dislike that sort of argument. I can find that exchange anywhere on the internet. My initial response was identical to Scott's. So if my response was inadequate so was Scott's.

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  132. limsinca- It seems clear that QB leaves a carve out for people like you and me when he says "but in the end, liberals who behave this way"QB- "Once you start accepting any of this baloney as a basis for discussion, you have embarked on a pointless and endless cycle of being accused and diagnosed, because resistance is definitionally racist."But is it possible that it could be jumping off point for a fruitful discussion with people who don't think you're racist, like me and limsinca?

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  133. "But in the end, liberals who behave this way are simply devotees of an ideology that defines their opposition as racist (and sexist and classist etc.). If you don't accept their world view, you are by definition a racist, because the world (viz: USA) is racist, except for those enlightened people who recognize it and thus share their ideology. See that?"I see it, but (a) it's clearly not true of all liberals (see lmsinca) and (b) you may find that explanation satisfying, which is fine, but I don't. In fact, I would be interested if any of the liberals here consider that a fair characterization of their views. These are the questions that occur to me. What evidence is there that the world is racist? If people aren't doing anything overtly racist, how do we (and why do we want to?) determine covert racism? And can't anybody be guilty of covert racism? Why in the world is it about appealing to the darker parts of the conservative soul, and not everybody? Wouldn't the trappings of liberalism and identity politics be an excellent way to cover up your covert-racism–so excellent, in fact, that it could be seen as evidence of covert racism? And if the racism is covert, then clearly even the racists acknowledge that racism is bad and must be hidden. Perhaps liberal caucasians are just better at hiding their covert racism.If that's not it, then perhaps it's difficult to determine covert racism with any degree of accuracy. It becomes a practice like what I personally took from yellojkts post: what is covert racism? I know it when I see it. It's judgement not by the facts, but by intuition. If I'm wrong about that, I'd like to know how. These seem obvious and interesting questions, to me. You propose basic and very broad explanations, which are interesting, but I'd be interested in what someone in the business of detecting covert racism has to say. This does not mean that, say, a conservative politician should ever accept the premise that conservatism = racism, in any shape or form, and I also do not accept the premise. Again, I don't have to refuse to discuss something just because I don't subscribe to the premise. In fact, where I challenge the premise could be a very interesting conversation.

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  134. ashot:That's an excellent evasive answer.And I wasn't even trying!The comment I responded to was the following:…Sorry…I thought you were referring to the fact that I had suggested that what yello said was itself racism. If you weren't referring to that specifically, but instead to nothing more than my assertion that liberal thought ought to be examined based on the same assumptions and methods which it applies to conservative thought, then I am calling for that out of fairness and objectivity. It also seems to be saying liberals should be examined under those same assumptions. Most definitely. Do you seriously disagree? If so, do you think liberal thought should be exempt from examination under its own premises, or that it should be exempt from examination altogether?In contrast, if you sincerely believe that yelo's comment is demonstrated in his/her own racist or bigoted beliefsI thought we weren't talking about yello specifically. When I assumed we were, you said I was being evasive. Which is it?Whichever it is, I frankly don't understand the problem here. It is a perfectly legitimate exercise to adopt premises/tactics which one doesn't actually accept in order to demonstrate to a person who does accept them that the premises/tactics lead to a place they won't agree with, in an attempt to get them to re-examine those premises/tactics. That you think this approach ought to be off limits to me in my attempts to convince yello that his treatment of conservatives is wrong, or more generally as an approach to liberal thought, is, well, very bizarre indeed.I'm far more interested in hearing why someone believes what they believe than explaining to them why they are wrong. You and QB seem more interested in the later than the former.It depends on the situation. If a poster here started talking about how blacks, in the dark recesses of their psyche, are lazy, then I would have exactly zero interest in understanding why they think so, except perhaps as a possible avenue by which I might change their minds. yello's assumptions about the pull of racism for conservatives is absolutely no different to me. In fact, with regards to the hypothetical thought about blacks being lazy, I would be sorely tempted to simply dismiss such thinking with disgust and as unworthy of serious discussion, which is why I am quite sympathetic to the position qb and McWing have staked out here, even though I have been willing to engage yello on the matter.

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  135. qb: "because resistance is definitionally racist"The idea that resistance is definitionally a negative is a very interesting conversation starter. And, while I have encountered it in the past, and it perhaps may be implied by yellojkts post, I don't think I've seen anyone making the argument that claiming not to be racist is proof of racism. BTW, this seems to suggest an obvious challenge.Mr. Liberal: But the fact you say you aren't a racist proves you are a racist, because only a racist will deny their racism.Me: You, Mr. Liberal, are a racist.Mr. Liberal: Good try, but of course I am a racist. But I do more to fight against it. Me: No you don't.Mr. Liberal: Yes I do!Me: I'm afraid your saying you do more to fight against it means that you actually do less.Mr. Liberal: But I'm a strawman! You just made me up!Me: I should have made you a girl, then. A really cute one. I'm always thinking of these things after the fact.And so forth. I understand that certain things make a poor basis for discussion. I'm not entirely sure this is one of those things, based on the discussion that has transpired.

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  136. lms,If you are in doubt about the nature of these ideas, start reading about critical race theory, for example, which came into law schools thirty years ago and not only makes just the sort of claims I outlined but expressly repudiates evidence and rational argument.Or structural and institutional racism. The "race crits" claim the privilege of telling "stories" they claim tell the truth about others, without examination or evidence. This was all the rage when I was in school, along with other variants of "crit theory." Heck, as a 1L I was in the section known as the "crit section" because of our radicl profs.Go talk to some conservative students about their experiences of expressing opinions against racial remedies supported by the left. I promise you, you'll find they were defined as racists. And these are the ideas that have flowed into society the past several decades.

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  137. Well qb, my experience with my children and their college educations over the past 20 years doesn't quite match yours. And as far as here (ATiM) goes, just about the only person who seemed to agree with yellojkt's post was yellojkt. Honestly, my kids and their friends, conservative and liberal alike, have moved beyond racial identity politics. I can also say with 100% certainty that not during a single one of your rants outlining the many flaws you find in Obama, did I ever even consider that it was racially based. The thought never occurred to me. That's not to say there isn't some racial animosity out there regarding Obama, just that I don't find it very prevalent and it certainly never crossed my mind that the "teleprompter meme" was racially motivated. I realize it was a recurring charge at the Plumline but I would hope the people who frequent blogs and rant and rave like that are not representative of the population at large on either side.

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  138. Another thing occurs to me. There is an argument that if you don't consider something a valid basis for a discussion, then you simply shouldn't participate in that discussion. Done and done. Reasonable, no?But what if someone posted something legitimately racist (Obama bucks comes to mind). Would simply not participating be a satisfactory response?

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  139. KW,I don't think I've seen anyone making the argument that claiming not to be racist is proof of racismIt isn't so much that as opposing the worldview or political agenda, or whatnot, although the hypothetical dialogue you pose does further illustrate how it works. A good left-wing race theorist indeed would (proudly) confess latent racism, since everyone is racist (whites, that is) but be self-exonerated by commitment to the therapy and political agenda of liberalism/leftism. Much as you posit.This is part of why I think it quite fair and accurate to say they divide the world in two: liberals and racists, because in truth everyone is racist, and the only way to gain a dispensation for one's racism is to confess it and adopt liberal race politics.

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  140. There is an argument that if you don't consider something a valid basis for a discussion, then you simply shouldn't participate in that discussion. Done and done. Reasonable, no?True. As you know by now, I am a "complicated" person.

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  141. "Well qb, my experience with my children and their college educations over the past 20 years doesn't quite match yours."I went to art school (in the south). We had to import our crazy leftists from Canada. The identity politics QB cites would never have come from any of our instructors.The Canadian leftists? Absolutely. Nothing like being told (without irony) that you can't help being racist, because you were born in the south, and it's just wired in to you. And then watch one of them do a performance piece filled with almost every black southern bluesy stereotype known to man . . . ugh. It was my first exposure to the idea that people who presented themselves as liberals could be remarkably intolerant (and angry, angry, angry). They boycotted the life drawing class because the teacher presented 18th and 17th century nudes in a discussion of line and form, rather than patriarchal oppression and exploitation.Except online (on Plum Line, but even more on Ezra Klein's blog (at TPM, anyway), and various other comment sections) I haven't encountered such esoteric Calvinist conception of racism again. "I can also say with 100% certainty that not during a single one of your rants outlining the many flaws you find in Obama, did I ever even consider that it was racially based"Of course not. It was obviously envy. Deep, bitter envy. 😛

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  142. qb: "True. As you know by now, I am a "complicated" person."But that was a lead in to my followup: who would find that acceptable if someone seriously posted something racist? Per my earlier examples. Something about indolence and carnality lurking in the dark recesses of some minority group's soul. Would I be saying: "Well, come on, gang. Let's discuss it. Let's hug it out."I'd be hard pressed to do that. Which makes me curious what's going on under the mental hood (without having any answers at the moment).

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  143. "It also seems to be saying liberals should be examined under those same assumptions. Most definitely. Do you seriously disagree?"No. In fact I explicitly agreed with this. " It is a perfectly legitimate exercise to adopt premises/tactics which one doesn't actually accept in order to demonstrate to a person who does accept them that the premises/tactics lead to a place they won't agree with, in an attempt to get them to re-examine those premises/tactics."I agree this is a fine tactic, just not when the argument you are turning around is one you think is baseless and so ambiguous as to apply nearly universally. QB- Critical race theory never once came up in law school or in my extremely liberal education at Kalamazoo College. Whatever your experience was, it certainly is not typical of what I experienced. To be frank, it doesn't sound typical of the education anyone I know received.

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  144. "This is part of why I think it quite fair and accurate to say they divide the world in two: liberals and racists, because in truth everyone is racist, and the only way to gain a dispensation for one's racism is to confess it and adopt liberal race politics."While it may be true in many cases, this is not universally true. Many folks who consider themselves proudly liberal do not see a racist behind every tree. Not every progressive believes in an entitlement state as a way of ameliorating white guilt. Although they do believe in the entitlement state. 😉

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  145. ashot,But is it possible that it could be jumping off point for a fruitful discussion with people who don't think you're racist, like me and limsinca?I'm not sure what that means, but I think the answer is no, at least, it isn't a good jumping off point, not any more than someone's blurting out "I defy anyone to explain how all liberals aren't lazy communists" would be.

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  146. "I agree this is a fine tactic, just not when the argument you are turning around is one you think is baseless and so ambiguous as to apply nearly universally. "I may be mistaken, but this seems to be one of the best times to reverse the argument. The fact that it can apply universally, or is in itself a tautology, discredits the argument overall and helps make the case that more substantiation is needed. If it proves x, and then also proves the opposite of x, though it may at one point sound good, it's actually not a proof. The notness of it, as a proof, is thusly demonstrated. Perhaps I'm missing something.

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  147. not any more than someone's blurting out "I defy anyone to explain how all liberals aren't lazy communists" would be.Last time you said that, QB, I thought it led to a fine discussion. 😛

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  148. This all jogged my memory of a discusson the sports radio last night. There apparently was some controversey involving white people using black face as part of their Halloween costume. For example the Detroit Tiegers have a homeless man who sits outside the stadium for every home game and chants "Eat em up Tigers Eat em up." he's a cult hero of sorts, almost a city landmark. A caller said he dressed up as that fan and was heavily criticized for doing so. One of the radio hosts thought his costume was fine, the other simply said black face is always wrong. I think it's largely true that balck face is always seen as wrong, but I think that's ridiculous. Of course, arguing that black face is acceptable will almost inevitably lead to being called a racist which is why most people avoid challenging the position that it's wrong. To me that's exactly what QB is talking about. You're racist for claiming not to be racist. To me not having that discussion is extremely damaging.

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  149. While it may be true in many cases, this is not universally true.I said liberals who behave that way. Like yellojkt. Crits wouldn't even consider "liberals" part of their cadre, but then they completely misdefine modern liberalism itself. That's another story.To be frank, it doesn't sound typical of the education anyone I know received.You were lucky. It started in my liberal arts college and escalated through law school. But I have a hard time believing these theories have no representation at Kalamazoo.

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  150. This thread now has more than 147 comments. Gotta say, I think it's sparked a discussion, and not a bad one, and at no point have I felt that any of us really accepted the initial premise that sparked most of the debate. ashot: "Of course, arguing that black face is acceptable will almost inevitably lead to being called a racist which is why most people avoid challenging the position that it's wrong."I think there are two components in regards to the argument. (A) What is the intent? Whatever the intent of blackface was in the past, is someone doing it for Halloween likely to be doing so out of racism, or advancing the racist cause? But there is also (B) what is the effect on others. Sometimes you don't do stuff not because of who you are, but because of the likely effect on others. Tone deafness in this regard is generally seen as racism (barely sublimated, perhaps), when, in fact, it is actually tone deafness. I have a hard time accepting the idea that being unaware that something is offensive to others is racism. But, I digress.

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  151. KW,Sorry, but I'm going to have to dissent. Many comments don't redeem it.

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  152. qb: "Sorry, but I'm going to have to dissent. Many comments don't redeem it."Not just quantity, but quality!We shall have to agree to disagree. Or disagree to disagree, I suppose, though we will still disagree.

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  153. QB- Obviously my experience at Kzoo was specific to me, but my classes ended up discussing issues around gender and sexuality more often than race. I don't doubt that critical race theory was taught in classes. Kevin- I generally fall in line with your point about tone deafness, but there are times to take a stand on tone deafness and times to let it go. Halloween costumes more likely than not fall in the let it go category.

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  154. I think most of us generally, to be polite, make carve outs for people we disagree with but don't want to offend for some reason. I think we make our carve outs too small however. Most of us, left, right and center are more than just one strict bundle of a single ideology. We seem to be able to critically think our way out of a paper bag for the most part. Hopefully, a discussion like this one, even though it's based on what most of us believe is a faulty assumption, will still generate a tiny bit of further understanding. That's my hope at least.

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  155. Not just quantity, but quality!I can see that no matter how negative I am, I will never be able to beat the postivity out of you.We shall have to agree to disagree. Or disagree to disagree, I suppose, though we will still disagree.I must disagree.I think most of us generally, to be polite, make carve outs for people we disagree with but don't want to offend for some reason.Aha, but then the last time was polite to you, you still punched me in the nose, to to speak. 🙂

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  156. That's because it was too small of a carve out. 🙂

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  157. Great replies, QB. Kevin is indefatigable.

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  158. QB – I had a long day (with some thrilling news), so missed a lot of the discussion. This came on a separate thread, but there is racism in the dark corners of my soul. It came as a surprise to me when it cropped up. For what it's worth, I think you add a lot here.Were we to meet offline, I might not like you. I'd still like to buy you a beer and hang out. BB

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  159. This started as it always does, with someone saying conservatives are racists.No. I said that there are racists who are conservative. I have said this multiple times and you prefer to argue against your strawman.And it's not just conservatives, everybody is is a little bit racist.

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  160. yellojkt,I several times above quoted your words that unambiguously label all conservatives as racists by virtue of being conservatives … in the "dark corners of the conservative soul." It is almost as bad that you tarred everyone who thinks Obama is less brilliant and eloquent than you do with holding and expressing the "thoughts behind" a racist KKK screed. You "def[ied]" anyone to explain how challenging this President's (and only this President's) claimed brilliance can be anything other than racist. I noticed you had no answer to how your "argument" makes Herman Cain a racist. Awkward.If you want to retract all of that, you are welcome to do so, but you can't change what you said by denying you said it. We can all read it up top."And it's not just conservatives, everybody is is a little bit racist."Well, which is it now? From sentence 1 to sentence 2, you went from denying that you said all conservatives are racists to saying that everyone is a racist. You have a mixed up and incoherent ideology, but you can speak for yourself in saying everyone is a racist.Congratulations on your display of disgust with racism, but I'm not going to join in the ritual cleansing.

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  161. Well, here I would ask for clarification. I mean, I see what you mean. Yellojkt says: "Of all the slurs used against Obama, I find the Teleprompter Meme the most insidious because it reaches a dark portion of the conservative soul. People respond to it at a visceral level not even realizing how their prejudices are being played. Every time I encounter it, I immediately call it out as being crypto-racist and I always face some blowback. People refuse to acknowledge the racist underpinnings of the meme."It's seems to be associating racism specifically with conservatives, and doesn't say "some" or " a small portion" of conservatives. Although it's also in the context of a Rick Perry ad, so perhaps he only meant conservatives that like Rick Perry (many don't). But he also says "people", so either he is saying that all people are conservatives, that all people have their prejudices manipulated by teleprompter jokes, or he did not clearly make his point, and should be allowed to modify it until he feels he's communicated more clearly. That is, yellojkt has also said: "No. I said that there are racists who are conservative. I have said this multiple times" and also says everybody is a little bit racist. I cannot see a compelling reason not to allow his initial post to be modified by his subsequent statements. "Congratulations on your display of disgust with racism, but I'm not going to join in the ritual cleansing."Oh, come on. It's better than a deep colonic. 🙂

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  162. Kevin:Oh, come on. It's better than a deep colonic.I'm not at all sure that is true.

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  163. Scott: Okay, you're right, deep colonics are pretty special. Mmmm. Colonic.

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  164. "I cannot see a compelling reason not to allow his initial post to be modified by his subsequent statements."Statements that directly contradict the opening statement do no modify it; they contradict it. They can't be harmonized. "Oh, come on. It's better than a deep colonic."The product is much the same.

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