Corporatist bollixed by racialist: In this mornings New York Times, David Brooks endorses Sonio Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. In the following passage, he deftly sums up some of the evidence. But we were most struck by one word:
BROOKS (6/9/09): She is quite liberal. But theres little evidence that she is motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude.
Tom Goldstein of Scotusblog conducted a much-cited study of the 96 race-related cases that have come before her. Like almost all judges, she has rejected a vast majority of the claims of racial discrimination that came to her. She dissented from her colleagues in only four of those cases. And in only one of them did she find racial discrimination where they did not. Even with what she calls her Latina soul, she saw almost every case pretty much as they did.
When you read her opinions, race and gender are invisible...
We were struck by Brooks use of the unremarkable word, racialist. Struck because we had seen our most brilliant liberal pretending, just one night before, that shed never heard such a puzzler.
That brilliant liberal was Rachel Maddow, our own corporate-chosen Rhodes Scholar. Maddow was discussing Newt Gingrichs endlessly-shifting account of Sotomayors world view and character. In our view, Gingrich has played the world-class fool on this topicbut then, thats a game at which our own Scholar excels. In this passage, she was discussing last nights GOP fund-raising dinner:
MADDOW (6/8/09): Last week, our friend Ana Marie Cox reported on this show that Mr. Gingrich was almost disinvited from tonights eventNewt Gingrich, former speaker of the Houseafter he tweeted that President Obamas Supreme Court nominee was a, quote, "Latina woman racist." After Republicans including Senators John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions recoiled publicly against that, and reportedly after the party threatened to yank his speaking slot at tonights party, Mr. Gingrich newt-tracted the racist charge saying, quote, "The word racist should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person.
That climb-down was enough to get him back invited, but he has been backsliding ever since. Last week Mr. Gingrich went on Fox News and said this:
GINGRICH (videotape): Its clear that the quote is clearly racist.
MADDOW: Ah, its just her quote! Not actually her! I see the difference? (Mugging) Then, there was some further fine-tuning this weekend on CBS.
GINGRICH (videotape): It`s clear that what she said was racist and its clearor, as somebody wrote recently, "racialist," if you prefer.
MADDOW: Racialist. Yes, thats totally different than racist? Thats totally not racial-baiting at all. (Mugging) Its totally different. (Laughter) Whats he talking about?
As always, you have to watch the tape (click here) to see our own Rhodes Scholar mugging and clowning her way through the night. But in this passage, Maddow treats her liberal audience as if their average IQ is 11. She acts as if she doesnt know the difference between racist and racialist. She acts as if she cant distinguish between 1) the charge that someone is a racist and 2) the charge that this person made a racist statement.
Here at THE HOWLER, we think Gingrich has played the consummate fool on this matter. We dont think Sotomayors statement was racist; were inclined to think that people who take her statement that way may not quite understand what the word racist means. But while we think Gingrich has played the fool, we did understand both distinctions he voiced. Like Brooks, we know that racialist is different from racist. Like everyone else on the face of the earth, we know theres a difference between calling some person a racist and saying that this person once made a racist statement.
Here at THE HOWLER, weve had it with Maddowwith her mugging, her clowning, her self-adoration, her reliance on a professional dope like our friend Ana Marie Cox. (For the record, Cox strikes us as very brightexcept when shes doing her own clowning and career-building. As she did yesterday, making the idiotic remarks which Media Matters flagged. Just click here.) Weve had it with Maddow playing the fool, treating her progressive audience as if theyre nine years old. Weve had it with her brilliant jokes (about newt-tracting, for example)even as she hands us rubes the dumbest analyses possible.
Yes, Virginia. There really is such a word as racialist. And yes, it really is different from racist. Lets look again at what Brooks said:
BROOKS: She is quite liberal. But theres little evidence that she is motivated by racialist thinking or an activist attitude.
When he said that, he wasnt talking about racist thinking. You can even look it up! For one on-line definition, click here.
Is Maddow really as dumb as she acts? Its always possible, of course. But we are sick, right up to our ears, of the silly, mugging games she incessantly plays.
Dumb it down! Please the rubes! Be sure to feed their tribal desires! These are the rules of the corporate news crowd as they ceaselessly stalk the wild demo. In the next few days, we will return to the silly bills who surround this scholar on her GE-owned gong-show. Well look at such cable stars as Wolff, Wolffe and Harris-Lacewelland of course, at Maddow herself.
Well even return to a long-suspended question: Might the key to all this bullsh*t lie in the world of Bill Wolff? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/19/09.)
A SNOOTFUL OF DEMOCRATIZATION: This Sunday, it became official. Charlie Pierces new book arrived in Baltimore. Greedily, we fell on a copy. We began reading, a bit too fast.
We havent finished the book, and we really did read too quickly. But Charlie is working in fertile territory. Weve been thinking about the book for the past several days.
For a brief overview, just click here. Oh, what the heck! Well cut and paste:
DOUBLEDAY: With his razor-sharp wit and erudite reasoning, Charles Pierce delivers a gut-wrenching, side-splitting lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States, and how a country founded on intellectual curiosity has somehow deteriorated into a nation of simpletons more apt to vote for an American Idol contestant than a presidential candidate.
With Idiot America, Pierces thunderous denunciation is also a secret call to action, as he hopes that somehow, being intelligent will stop being a stigma, and that pinheads will once again be pitied, not celebrated.
What the heck. We thought wed offer a few frameworks our reading called to mind.
First, and minor: The book is called Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. Were always a bit unsure about titles like that. As with the very smart, very funny early web site, Media Whores Online, some titles tend to restrict the way the titled product gets viewed. Charlies book is worth thorough consideration. We hope it gets it.
Its always dangerous to talk about (Doubledays term) the glorification of ignorance. We humans are all ignorant, of course; on our best days, were only a little less stupid than we were on the others. And of course, its always easy to assume that only the other tribe is stupid. That said, the sheer stupidity of American discourse has been quite apparent of late. Weve paid a gigantic price in the last nine year for the systemic stupidity of the previous decade. (Al Gore said he grew up on a farm!) Charlie seems to be digging deep into some of the deep back-story.
When we ponder such issues, we always think of the strange ways major parts of this nation began.
As it turns out, we Somerbys seem to have arrived in Massachusetts early (1639). And sure enough! By 1692, Elizabeth Somerby (born 1646) was being tried for witchcraft, in Wenhamwhere she was acquitted. (Sensibly, she married the man who defended her, a fellow named Reverend John Hale.) But then, many of this colonys early arrivals were, by normal assessments, a bit kooky. They had sailed in leaky boats across a sea full of monsters to a land they believed to be full of savages. Why had they done such a ludicrous thing? Of course! Because they didnt like the way the King was making them say the Lords Prayer! Others risked their lives coming to other colonies because of the quest for riches. Its hard to avoid a simple thought: The saner ones may have stayed home in England! Later in our history, the ones who were too crazy to make it with this crazy crew were transferred furtherto Texas.
Our history here is a bit truncated. For more scholarly fare, well still recommend Michael Linds Made in Texas. But wasnt there always a crazy strain in the English-speaking population which founded the crackpot nation Pierce reviews in this book? We dont know the answer to that, but thats one framework Pierces book evoked for us. Another goes back a much longer time, to the time when the glorious Greeks asserted that man [sic] is the rational animal.
For some reason, this misleading framework has always appealed to us non-rational western animals. For some time, we maintained the illusion in this country (founded on intellectual curiosity) by relying on certain elites. Jefferson wasnt your average fellowand neither was Edward R. Murrow. But then, one fateful day, we got ourselves a snootful of democratization. Under this influence, we decided to let other types take their turns at the head of the table. We let Imus take a chair; then, we let Howard Stern in too. Soon, the worlds biggest collection of crackpots and fools were shaping our national discourse.
Wed traded reasonably sane elites for a bunch of stone-cold crackpots and nuts. In the process, we discovered that we mostly cant make out the difference.
We havent finished Charlies bookbut we dang straight plan to. Well suggest that you run it down too, perhaps after reading some actual reviews. Were living in an age of inanity, and by the way: Even now, our most brilliant career liberals cant being themselves to discuss the ludicrous ways we got to this ludicrous point. Remember that when you think that this book is surely about somebody else. That it surely aint about you or yours. That your tribe just cant be involved here.