David Brooks, racism denier

David  Brooks argues that all the shouting and threatened shooting has nothing to with racism.  How could he know?  Well, two things:

1.  One day recently he saw white tea-baggers buy food from stalls set up by a  black group and there wasn’t  any visible annimosity.

2.  The division between the big government highly educated people and the small government down home folks has been with us since the days of  Jefferson.

The first argument has the cogency  of the bad argument high on the recommended  list  of Daily Kos recently; namely, since there were some black people are on the right, the right can’t be racist.  (Aren’t you just so relieved that it is this simple?)

The second argument is a little better.  But it does not show that there is no racism in the furore going on now.  So let’s get a perspective by reminding ourselves that the death threats against Obama are 400 percent higher than those against Bush.

And maybe it would help to draw up a list of stock racism images and tropes?  This list will be obvious to many, would that it were all.

1. linking an African American/Black to colonialist fantasies about primitive Africa.  The idea that Obama is a witch doctor with a bone through his nose will do as an example, as Jender has pointed out.

2.  linking an African American/Black to our evolutionary relatives, the apes.  Thus the idea that Michelle Obama has an ape among her near  ancestors or linking killing a chimp to killing Obama use  a FAMOUS RACIST trope.

And that’s only the beginning.  How about this, from “The Scourge Persists” by Bob Herbert:

More than three decades later we have Sherri Goforth, an aide to a Republican state senator in Tennessee sending out a mass e-mail of a cartoon showing dignified portraits of the first 43 presidents, and then representing the 44th — President Obama — as a spook, a cartoonish pair of white eyes against a black background.

We are not going to get anywhere if we cannot even name the problem.

5 thoughts on “David Brooks, racism denier

  1. It’s also worth noting that both the “Hamiltonian” and the “Jeffersonian” ideals, as Brooks glosses them, were shaped in the context of a slaveholding social class — and at least one of them by a member of that class. Brooks’s column seems distressingly blithe in its ability to decontextualize those ideals.

  2. And then, of course there was the widely circulated picture of the White House behind a large watermelon patch ….

  3. Brooke’s colleague Frank Rich starts his column today with this: “IF only it were just about the color of his skin.” And goes on to argue essentially that explaining what’s going on in the U.S. these days would be so much simpler and easier if it were *just* about racism. He’s surely not wrong in saying the race hatred aspect of the hate speech movement is not news, but I suppose I find it pretty foul to argue that, wow, it would be better if it was JUST about racism. Au contraire — Wouldn’t it be worse? Wouldn’t it show yet again how wholly entrenched this utterly pernicious blight is in the United States, and isn’t that a rather hideous thing to have to acknowledge about your society? I’m with Jimmy Carter on this. I think racism is a primary driving factor here, which I think rather than making it simpler or easier — as Franch Rich seems to — makes it harder and worse.

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