HE COULDN’T IMAGINE MCCORMACK! Jon Fasman tried to imagine what Tea Party people are like: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2011
A professor and a support group/Higher re-education: Paul Krugman is basically right today, though we’d say his perspective is somewhat limited.
Increasingly, the Republican Party is “anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge,” he writes. We wouldn’t put it precisely that way ourselves, but his points are all well-taken, especially at the leadership/policy/pandering level.
(Just for the record: In a December 2010 Gallup survey, 34 percent of Democrats agreed with this statement: “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” This compared with 52 percent of Republicans. Failure to believe in evolution is one of the two “anti-science” views Krugman discusses today. It’s worth remembering that many Democratic voters believe in creation.)
Republican leadership is now anti-science. But then, the liberal world increasingly strikes us as being a bit “anti-knowledge” itself. Before the week is done, we’ll speak again about the work done by Professors Putnam and Campbell in their recent New York Times op-ed column. And did you read the hopeless work at Salon last week, in which Tracy Clark-Flory and Steve Kornacki imposed absurd dogmatic belief on the things of the world?
(As many commenters noted, Kornacki’s attempt to expose Mitt Romney as a sexist was just pathetically silly. In this piece, Clark-Flory reversed herself on the DSK case, explaining why she took her initial, prosecute-him-anyway stand. Good lord: Clark-Flory said she took her original position because she “felt guilty” about saying what she actually thought!)
It’s hard for a blinkered, dogmatic liberal world to gain traction with the wider electorate. For the latest example of “liberal” dogmatics, we have the puzzling column which sits next to Krugman’s piece today.
The column was written by Patricia Turner, a professor of African American studies and the vice provost for undergraduate studies at Cal Davis. Turner’s column extends the puzzling critique of the movie, The Help, which has emanated from parts of the white liberal world and from parts of the black professoriate. By the time we reached Turner’s third paragraph, we were already semi-kerflubbled. But her fourth paragraph is astounding:
Perhaps the professor is speaking tongue in cheek. In context, that isn’t real obvious.
Turner goes on to present a bewildering account of this film. As we have read “liberal” attacks on the film, we have often wondered if the writer actually saw it. So it was by the time we reached the highlighted juncture:
We’ll let you puzzle out the professor’s logic. (Can “good people” be “racist?” She doesn’t seem to see the problem lodged in this recurrent construct.) But how about that highlighted sentence? “With one possible exception, the white women are remarkably unlikable?” Presumably, the possible exception to which Turner refers is the Emma Stone character—a character which is meant to be massively likable, of course. (Elsewhere, that’s one of the basic complaints.) But is that character’s mother “remarkably unlikable?” Is the Sissy Spacek character “remarkably unlikable?” As the column rumbles along, it gets harder and harder to believe that Turner has seen the film:
What the heck is Turner talking about? It’s true—in To Kill a Mockingbird, we pretty much never see upstanding, upper-middle-class people expressing racist sentiments. But The Help is crawling with such portrayals; it specifically shows you upper-class white Jackson behaving in various unlovely ways. As with other critiques of this film, it’s rather hard to figure what Turner is talking about.
Alas! Our professors and our “liberal journalists” are often full of dogmatic notions—ideas they are prepared to impose on all manner of outside reality. For an example of what we mean, consider what happened when another professor, Ida Jones, appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to help us pitiful rubes understand what’s so wrong with The Help.
To read the transcript, just click here. (You can also listen to the program.) As with Turner, Professor Jones was expounding about all that is wrong with the troubling film—until black viewers started to call.
The first caller disagreed with Jones’ basic outlook. This was the second call:
Apparently, Lisa had failed to get the memo from the nation’s professors. But then, so had the next caller, who discussed the book on which the movie is based:
Toni is floundering too! Presumably, Turner’s support group will help these women with their re-education.
We’ll restate our personal experience. We saw the film in a jam-packed theater full of black Baltimoreans. The audience loved the movie. Professor Turner will have to raise a lot of dough if she hopes to brainwash this many people into accepting her claims.
Campbell, Putnam, Fiore, Kornacki, Turner, Jones? As the liberal world re-emerges from decades of sleep, it is often crawling with dogma, dogma it likes to impose on the world. As liberals express these dogmatic views, they make it harder for progressive values to gain purchase among the wider electorate. And they help us understand a sad fact—dogmatic cluelessness is found all over, not just in the other tribe.
“Not all blacks are unmoved by The Help!” So the professor instructs us today, showing the power of understatement. Meanwhile, planning for that support group is underway—helping us see the way the professors, and the Times itself, teach average people to scorn us.
PART 1—HE COULDN’T IMAGINE MCCORMACK (permalink): We humans tend to get in trouble when we imagine all the people—more precisely, when we try to imagine what “those people” in the other tribe must be like.
Consider what happened when Jon Fasman tried to imagine what those tea party people are like.
Fasman engaged in his large-scale musing for the Economist. As he started, he acknowledged that conservatives don’t have to be slobbering racists. He even noted one of Ed Schultz’s latest racism-pimping blunders, an absurd group attack for which Big Ed apologized the next night. Still and all, Fasman just couldn’t help wondering: What the heck are those people like?
What do those people think and feel? Pondering forty million people, Fasman imagined them thusly:
Frankly, Fasman was puzzled. He wondered about what “these voters” want—but instead of attempting to ask some voters, he simply began to imagine. He found one possibility “hard not to think;” soon he was imagining the worst about those people. (Do they want to keep blacks, Jews, Catholics, women and gays in their place?) But by the time his rumination was through, he was still deeply puzzled:
“If not, what, exactly, do they want their politicians to ‘champion?’ ”
Fasman had tried to imagine all the people. It seemed that he had struck out.
Alas! When we start imagining things, we tend to get in trouble. Just consider one of the things Fasman couldn’t seem to imagine. Magnanimously, Fasman was willing to concede that life may well have been better for John Boehner, and for many other white, Christian heterosexual Americans, back in 1949. (Boehner was a newborn then, but you get the idea.) At the same time, he “wondered what chance a 60-year-old Catholic son of a bartender from Reading, Ohio would have had at becoming Speaker of the House” in that benighted year.
Fasman knew that the American people were slobbering racists back then. He also seemed to imagine that they would never have tolerated a Catholic son of the working class in a position of high respect. Fasman was imagining grandly know, stroking his inner thigh as he did.
Here at THE HOWLER, we looked up the bio of Boston’s own, Speaker John McCormack. It’s true—McCormack didn’t become speaker of the House until 1962. But he was House majority leader as early as 1940, and this is the way Wikipedia describes his religion and class background:
For the record, those “12 children, of whom three survived to adulthood,” were in fact McCormack and his siblings. According to newspaper reports at the time he died, McCormack was one of twelve kids, three of whom survived.
Is there some distinction we’re missing here? As Fasman imagined the world of the past, it seems he couldn’t imagine McCormack. But then, when we let ourselves start to imagine, we often find ourselves painting pictures which don’t correspond to real life.
Kevin Drum took a bit of offense to Fasman’s post (just click here). We agree with the basic thrust of Drum’s reaction, though we thought he took a few liberties too, doing a bit of imagining. But so it goes when we, The Good and True Tribe, decide to imagine all the people, forty million at a time.
What are “those people” actually like? Bigots have always been able to imagine the answer, down through the annals of time.
Tomorrow: Kevin’s reaction