Friday, June 13, 2008

Wherein J Reneges on His Previous Post

So in my previous post I gave out an IOU for some kind of race-related discussion. This is not that post. (This is just tribute, yeeeeahh...) No, actually, this is just quick missive.

In three words: What. The. Fuck?

I've been hearing about the Hillary Clinton supporters and their grieving period and the voting for McCain and racism and sexism and populism and experience and whatnot, and can I just say -- huh?

I understand (at least theoretically) being caught up in the moment of a movement, but the day for hangovers has come and gone and many very intelligent people are still hanging on. I don't get it. Why? Because I don't like Hillary Clinton. I haven't liked Hillary Clinton in a long time. (Though readers of the J Continuum might notice I've spent most of my time criticising Obama, who seems nice enough but who I really don't believe, and less so every day, represents any kind of substantial change. I.e. painful, effortful change that he'll have to fight for, have to beat out an opposing ideology for, not just an opposing nominee with substantially similar ideas.)

Achem. But getting back to Clinton. Why don't I like her? Because she, like her husband, got into office and ran to the center as fast as possible. I can't be bothered to re-document it here, but I think it's uncontroversial to say she's a centrist, AND -- hasn't been particularly strong on women's rights. I don't know that she's been weaker than average either, but considering average level of feminism in the US political scene rates somewhere around "dipshit", that's saying almost nothing. So I really don't get this -- I know it'd be an important and amazing symbol to have a woman president, but as with my favorite example of blacks on the Supreme Court, I think given a choice the vast majority of African-Americans would prefer that Clarence Thomas not be there. Clinton's no Thomas, but she's hardly an avid (political) feminist. Fighting hard for an office you feel entitled to does not a feminist make.

Sigh. I guess if I ponder on it I can understand how people might've started to identify with her even more strongly as she became the underdog, and were able to empathize with her and perhaps project their rage on how they've been treated unfairly -- for race, class, sex, or all of the above -- on how she wasn't treated well by the media. And such an identification could certainly hold strong through it all. I guess my problem is it's along the lines of average citizens identifying with Ivy-League-educated 3rd or 4th or 5th generation millionaire George W. Bush. He may project folksy wisdom, and Clinton project "stickin' it to the Man," but her present situation isn't much more like the average woman's than Bush's family background is similar to the family in Good Times.

I guess it makes sense purely in the sense of two phenomena if I think about it; one is the strong identification with Clinton's fight, against real sexism in the media as well as numerous other obstacles of her own creating and just regular ol' political vagaries -- once you identify her fight as like yours, you certainly wouldn't want to see her give up, fail, or play nice with the one what beat her. The second phenomena is -- I forget the name for it -- but the psychological impulse that makes you like a big expensive bought item more than you might otherwise. Once you've sunk cash or effort into something (or both, like Hillary supporters most likely), if you admit that the product isn't very good you admit your own fallibility and mistakenness. Given how balkanized the race became (in large part *because* of Clinton, sigh), I can see how saying "Well, I believed in her with all my might, buuuuut let's move on to he competitor now cheerily and without pause" makes sense. And indeed, the near blackout of self-reflection among (reports of) her supporters fits in this mould; it's not her fault, her mistakes and flaws are minor, it's the fault of the other ones -- otherwise I've got to look inwards and admit that I backed the wrong horse, that my support and effort doesn't mean much now. (I'm not saying the latter is true, I'm saying this is an implicit message that going Obama might make one consider.)

But in conclusion: MCCAIN????? Even if you perceive Obama as sexist (which I don't think is particularly the case, I think he's likely more feminist policy-wise than Clinton), why would you punish a sexist by voting for someone who (politically and possibly socially) is a pretty fucking bad feminist? At what point did we switch from "Lesser of Two Evilism" to "Great of Two Evils in Order to Show the Lesser Evil That We Won't Fucking Tolerate All the Evil That He Allowed Happen to Our Fair and Dear Candidate Who We Think Wasn't at all Evilism"? In what world does that make sense?* **

*(Excluding a world with a classroom full of stuffed teddy bears. If you don't get this, be happy you don't.)

**In the linked exchange, McCain did not answer a question about whether he called his wife a cunt, saying that that language was not appreciated by people and he moved on. If it had no basis in fact, though, wouldn't he instead say "That is a horrible and outrageous charge, and I condemn the use of such language here"? I suppose actually not giving an answer at all allows the question to go away -- rather than turning it into a question of his veracity or he said/they said, so it might actually make sense politically. Still, I still feel like if it weren't true, he'd say, forcefully, "Of course not," or "Hell no," or "Gee, what do you fucking think, fucktard? Of course fucking not?" or some variation thereof.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Hey Blogfans. I'm serious about getting work done these days, so I'll have to just say here: IOU One (1) post on race. Listening to some old BBC news today about an Indian company than bought Jaguar trying to buy a controlling interest in a line of hotels, and told in essence that they don't want their kind buying the hotel (kind of), and a rehash of some Jaguar dealers saying Americans weren't ready to buy luxury cars from Indians brought to my attention again the contradictions of modern race relations. The BBC commentator said that he'd hesitate to call the rebuffs "racist", he thinks they were just "poorly worded." It's this kind of thing that puts the calls about racism in the public sphere over many things that evoke public backlash or queasiness in perspective: they're debatable, but they draw attention away from the real racism of the present day, Institutional Racism. After all, the argument against Indian ownership was basically, "It's not about race, it's because people don't associate Indians with luxury or comfortable hotels. It's not our fault, it's just the perception." Yet to give in a to a perception just because it's tradition is exactly what perpetuates institutional racism -- and it doesn't have to be because you're racist, but just going with the flow, allowing what has historically happened to continue happening. But when the history it comes from is racism, you're being racist when you don't fight it. Not in the "I hate Brown Folks Personally" way of yore, but in the very pertinent and real and omnipresent way of saying "Well, we should let the status quo work itself out," when the status quo itself is based on years of discrimination. Not taking responsibility for that (and changing it) is itself (institutional) racism, is self-deluding, and is wrong.

Ok, this is almost a real post, but I'll probably want to clean it up. Watch this space (or don't, since I'm not sure when I'll get around to it). Cheers.