Atlantic Wire Doubles Down on “Obama Phone” Woman Racism Accusations — Calls Patterico Intellectually Dishonest
This past week I showed y’all this hilarious video of an Obama supporter thoughtfully explaining her well-reasoned support for President Obama:
A laugh riot — and it would be whether the woman was black, white, mauve, Hispanic, Chinese, or Pakistani. What’s more, her greed for government handouts is relevant in the wake of Big Media’s excoriation of Mitt Romney, for disparaging people who vote for Obama because they want government to give them free stuff.
As I explained, however, it was obviously RAAACIST! to draw attention to this video, because the Obama voter it depicts happens to be black. This (according to certain liberal pundits) gives her a Magic Shield that apparently protects her and everyone with a dark shade of skin from criticism or mockery, no matter how absurdly they might behave.
I cited as an example of this attitude the commentary of one Elspeth Reeve of the Atlantic Wire, who kindly explained to us why we are all racists for finding the above video funny.
Now Reeve doubles down, and saves some of her nastiest invective for yours truly. Let me give her some space to make her argument, because I’m going to use plenty of space to refute it. Reeve says:
This is a he-who-smelt-it-dealt-it argument. Or, as Stephen Colbert’s persona likes to say, “I don’t see race.” This line of argument wants to change the subject to something, anything other than race. Hey, what about free phones?! Patterico at Patterico’s Pontifications tried defending the video, saying, “The above video is hilarious. It is representative of a group of Obama voters who feel entitled to handouts from government. It does not matter what the color of the speaker is. It’s news… Conservatives should not have to shy away from such amusing examples of entitlement mentality simply because the particular proponent of that mentality happens to be black.” This is intellectually dishonest, at best. We await Patterico delving into the minutiae of the Universal Service Fund. Until then, it’s just “hilarious.” Specifically, it’s hilarious because it uses one person to portray a huge group of people in a negative way is. The point of the video — and the reason Drudge and Limbaugh hyped it — is to say, this is what Obama voters look like: black, poor, stupid, and after your money. The video’s subject wasn’t picked out because she “happens to be black,” she was picked out because she is black. Lee Atwater, strategist for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, explained how this works way back in 1981 — better to talk about cutting taxes and bussing, because it’s “a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Ni***r, ni***r.’” Of course, this Internet meme isn’t all that abstract.
Having cited Lee Atwater, she is certain to cite Willie Horton:
This video, if placed in a Romney ad, would make George H.W. Bush’s 1988 Willie Horton ad look subtle by comparison: the other guy is supported by scary black people, vote Republican!
Where to start?
First of all, I refuse to allow Reeve to cram down our throats the conventional wisdom that the Willie Horton furlough issue constituted an illegitimate racial line of attack. If so, then furloughing murderers to commit rapes is no problem — and Al Gore was a racist. I explained this all the way back in 2004:
Of course, what was so outrageous about the Willie Horton situation was not that there existed a furlough program of any type, but that a convicted murderer serving a sentence of life without parole was furloughed, allowing him the opportunity to rape a woman. The news media always treated this as a simple case of racial hyperbole, while ignoring the fact that this situation was unacceptable regardless of race. Indeed, this is why Al Gore thought the issue of such furloughs was fair game in a debate with Dukakis.
I am familiar with the fact, often cited by liberal pundits who love to cry RAAACISM!, that Lee Atwater described the Willie Horton ad as an example of pandering to racists. If that was his intent, shame on him. But that doesn’t mean the issue was illegitimate. Important issues are fair game even if they can be exploited by cynical partisans.
One of my readers with non-white skin, Dana, is pissed off. Let me turn the microphone over to dana:
Once again, because another earnestly precious writer sees the world through a colored lens, by default everyone else does, too. As a person with brown skin, I find this utterly disheartening because that means I will never be judged by character, nor by word and deed, but only by skin color. Why does the writer want to do this to me, and others? Shouldn’t her goal be to rise above this nonsense and be the change she’s been waiting for? (or, to put a point on it, she has not been waiting for that change, nor do she and her ilk want that change to occur because there goes the house of cards).
This is a non-stop insult to anyone who is not lily white and I am annoyed by it…and if this is the real Elspeth Reeve, writer of the article, I feel even more insulted. Who voted her arbiter of all things racist? Some white chick gets to decide for us when we who are not lily white like her, should be offended?? I don’t think so. She belittles herself, she belittles the woman in the video, and she belittles people of a different color with her um, racist attitude. What, does she think we’re all just little Step ‘n Fetchits who will react accordingly? (Heh. I can’t think of an Indian stereotype to fit because we’re so low on the totem pole, one wasn’t created!).
Ironically, even as Reeve criticizes tarring an entire group (Obama voters) based on the idiocy of one person, Reeve tars the entire group of people who publicize the above video, based on the reaction of one group: Stormfront:
Why bring Stormfront into this?
If you want to know whether something is racist, why not go to the experts? “You’ll be glad to know that Reeve backs up her leading question by citing those mainstream conservatives at, um, Stormfront,” writes Treacher. Members of a “white pride” forum are, after all, not offended by being labeled as white supremacists. And if they cheer the “Obama Phone” video as proving their “racial inferiority” hatred, then, you know, we’d say that’s pretty good proof that the video is trucking in racist stereotypes.
Let’s be honest. There are racists on both sides of the political aisle. If we make legitimate points about a candidate’s views on criminal justice issues by pointing out his excessive leniency to someone who happens to be black, our arguments will probably appeal to racist whites. If if there is a hilarious video of a moron screaming about free phones, and she happens to be black, posting that video will probably appeal to Stormfront. In either case, it’s not our fault.
Reeve appears to argue that conservatives should be forced to refrain from making their most effective points in a campaign, for fear that we might incite a racist reaction. She thinks that we should be forced to ignore a funny video of someone who happens to be black, for fear that racists might find the video funny too.
This view is patronizing to black people, because it treats them as a fragile group that can’t be a part of the rough and tumble politics we enjoy in this nation.
Does Reeve’s “don’t stir up the racists” rule apply to stories that stir up black racists by portraying white people in an unfavorable light? Does Reeve consider stories off limits if they appeal to stereotypes that some blacks hold about white people?
Let’s turn the tables for a moment and see if Reeve likes it. The dragging death of James Byrd was a live issue in the 2000 election. Byrd was killed by white racists, and bringing up the issue was certain to have a side effect in that it would appeal to stereotypes held by black racists, who believe that all whites are racist and hate blacks. Under Reeve’s rule, discussing the death of James Byrd would be “trafficking in racial stereotypes.”
Except it was a legitimate issue.
White people did not give a script to the Obama phone woman. She is real, and while her attitude does not represent everyone, it does represent a segment of the population that believes itself to be entitled to government handouts — a segment that makes its voting decisions based on which candidate will give away the most goodies. The issue is the woman’s attitude, not her race . . . and if we’re not allowed to note the attitude if it is held by someone of a particular race, we are hamstrung in our ability to make our arguments in the most forceful and effective manner possible.
Which, somehow, seems like the goal. Doesn’t it?