An Excellent Rant

My youngest son introduced me to Gin and Tacos a year or so ago, and it has become one of my favorite blogs, mostly because the blogger lets fly with whatever has most recently pissed him off, and I can really, really relate. The blogger has a name, of course, Ed Bermila, and has helpfully included a description of himself, written in third person and sarcasm.

Ed is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Midwestern Liberal Arts University after receiving his Ph.D. in political science from Giant Midwestern Public University and teaching for three years at Giant Southern Public University. He teaches Intro to American Government, Public Opinion, Elections, and The Presidency to a select group of very lucky boys and girls each semester. His academic research studies the spatial and geographic context of political behavior – partisanship, turnout, and public opinion. He also performs stand-up comedy on the regular and plays/played drums in a band called Tremendous Fucking. Like every band on the planet, they have a MySpace. It is highly recommended that you buy their latest album off of iTunes in order to get into heaven. Sometimes he stands on a stage and tells jokes as well, inasmuch as scathing social criticism can be described as a joke.

There’s more, but you get the tone.

I particularly liked his post–rant?– from mid-December, titled “Who is ‘we’?”which he introduced as follows:

My least favorite genre of journalism is the retrospective “How did we miss this?” piece that comes after years of the profession sticking its head in the sand and refusing to see something inconvenient. The New York Times actually had the balls to print a headline like “The Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, and How We Missed It.”

Who missed it? That’s a serious question. Who makes up the demographic “Did not see a disturbing rise in explicitly racist and xenophobic politics” and where were these people during the eight years Obama was president? It seems unlikely that an even mildly observant person could have failed to notice that about 20% of the people in this country came psychologically unmoored over the idea of having a black president.

I think the answer to “who missed it?” is: people who were intentionally obtuse. I still recall a conversation with the husband of one of my many cousins, not long after Obama was elected. I said something about how dispiriting I’d found the emergence of racist rhetoric, especially on line, and he looked at me blankly and said “Really? I haven’t noticed anything like that.”

This guy is a high-priced lawyer, and there really was no way he could have avoided coverage of the phenomenon, even if he had somehow escaped the online onslaught. During our conversation, it became clear that he wanted to attribute the growing concerns about racism to “Democrats playing the race card.”

As Bermila notes, the self-identified “centrists”in the media are obsessed with what he calls “Decorum and playing nice.” People will chastise you if you point out that the king really does seem to be naked.

“It’s rude and unproductive to call people you disagree with politically racists or Nazis, tut-tut!” Yes, well, these people are really racist and some of them are taking that to the logical extreme of becoming actual Nazis. Like, with swastikas and stuff….

Add to that the seriously misplaced priorities of the establishment media, which values blaming nobody and everybody equally (Both sides are wrong!) over identifying problems and assigning responsibility even when it’s patently obvious. The only way to miss right-wing extremism’s rise is to operate your media outlet while more afraid of being chided by right-wingers than of totally missing a crucial story.

And for those “retrospective” stories, the ones where you can almost picture the reporter wringing his hands in dismay while asking how “we” missed this, Ed has an appropriate response:

“We” didn’t miss it. You did.

 

21 thoughts on “An Excellent Rant

  1. Racism only exists when you point it out.

    Hate crimes as defined by the FBI the SPLC grew by nearly 1000%. In order to call it a hate crime, it had to fit very specific parameters. Pointing this out was playing the race card. 😉

    I saw this play out on FB with high school friends who posted memes of Barack or Michelle with a very specific message. Everybody laughed via emoticon.

    However, when I called it blatantly racist, I was accused of playing the race card. The neat trick was the friends who laughed at the meme insisted to the person who posted it that the racist is blocked for using the race card.

    It was quite mind-boggling. I think this is how Fox and other right-wing news gets a pass. The material or story isn’t racist until someone points it out as racist…”Why does everything have to be about race with you guys…”

    It’s a strange form of denialism which is created by our media and then carried out blindly by their viewers.

  2. Has anyone noticed how single minded the right seems? They all get their cues from Faux News and they (in true Roger Ailes form) repeat the key phrase over and over again until it becomes an autonomic response from their viewers. For the campaigns of their favorites, Frank Luntz and Roger Ailes did focus groups to find phrases that created visceral responses and their media drove those home hourly. The true believers would never be swayed by reason and they attacked anyone who dared raise a doubt.

    It is all about marketing and they are masters at it. While the rest of the media world was trying to be “fair” the right threw out any semblance of fair or balanced and up until now they’ve won. It’s also important to remember that Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine to pave the way for his good friend, Roger..

  3. Yes, Todd, I had a similar experience with a former FBI agent who trotted out ALL the racist memes including degrading photo-shopped cartoons, etc., etc. When I called him on them, he just electronically shrugged and accused me of having no sense of humor.

    The point is that people like that have been harboring those “jokes” their whole lives. When something unfathomable (in their tiny, compartmentalized minds) happened like Obama’s stunning popularity (still going) and his election (twice) by majority vote, they lost all control over their racist repression. It’s always been there. It will always be there in this country, because so few actually take the time or make the effort to make the intellectual leap from caveman tribalism to a modern society where 320 million of us have to get along instead of just 320.

  4. And while we are pointing out the denial of racism by those who should know better, let us include the people who deny climate change on a daily basis via the local news … the weathermen and women. How do they do it?
    “And out west today it is one hundred and ten in San Francisco as that state heads into more drought, and two hundred wild fires burn out of control. Up in Maine they had another tornado yesterday, and Florida’s sea coast has now given up another part of Miami to the rising Atlantic Ocean. Locally, the weather looks great for the big race weekend, so nothing to worry about here!”

  5. bravo, sounds like he didnt miss it. when you walk with like minded citizens,one would feel comfortable,and reconition is made. on the other hand,strangers and those you seldom walk with,keep your eyes open,and mouth shut. im all for a conversation on this countries future,and keeping it solvent for the next generation,to walk with all.. though we mind our lives to stay ahead of the games,problems,and needs,we do tend to overlook,and forget to walk with others. we missed,oooppps,damn.. but when we stand and we dont even see our own crap on the ground and step into it,we failed. were too pacified with self interests. our nation is the only one we have..our silver spoon edition of our lives forgot,what many worked, killed and died for. rant what ya might,we all need a diffrent view occaisionally to wipe off the dirt and actully pay attention to the other issues we missed..

  6. I had to finally tell a friend since grade school to stop contacting me at all; he ignored my requests, then demand that he stop sending racist jokes because they were insulting to my family members and myself. He was actually a first boyfriend; drove from Coatesville, IN to visit in person. After a few racist comments I said I had been married to Black men and have biracial great-grandchildren. This fool actually looked me in the eye and said, “I knew you had a past before I came here.” A PAST! A different point of view on race is having a past? I declined his invitation to dinner and never invited him back. The ugly comments and racist jokes continued via E-mail and Facebook till I cut him off. He is one “those” who doesn’t believe he is a racist but being honest…like Trump and his followers and those mentioned in the blog deaf, DUMB and blind to their racism.

    I find Todd’s first comment insulting, insensitive and ignorant. “Racism only exists when you point it out.” Only exists for who (or whom); the racist or the one who points it out.

  7. I sometimes wonder if it’s that we are still far more rooted in our Cro-Magnon past to get past all of this. We use all sorts of things we rarely think about to divide us – flags, maps, city/county/state/country borders, languages, et cetera. Maybe some of this is still good but when it comes to hatred and the ultimate expression of it, genocide and war, we need at some point to take stock of just who the heck we are as a species not just peoples.

    Of course, that would require a certain ability of introspection – something we are rarely good at and with the pace of life growing increasingly faster we may not have the opportunity to do so before we really go off the rails again and race headlong into replicating what happened 70 plus years ago.

  8. Racism will be with us as a crutch for the status quo until we “tan out,” a process that is accelerating, but not to worry. When everybody is tan we will find a new hatred to make up for the loss of color as a distinguishing mark, like class, religious preference, slant of eye, whatever. The status quo will, as now, nurture such hatreds in order to, as now, cover their own greed and supervision of public affairs via “campaign contributions” to their fellow conspirators, all the while exhorting the underclass to fight for the flag (and protection of their property and other interests both at home and abroad in the name and under the cover of a vaguely defined phrase euphemistically called “national

    interest”).

    I see the basic problem as one of hate, which seems to be a part of our tribalist instincts baked into our collective DNA. I once read a treatise on New Guinea tribes who, all being black, had to come up with different rationales for hatred of “the tribes across the river,” and that helped me understand that there are many grounds available for hatred rather than mere race/color, as we will see when we begin to catch up with Brazil in this tanning exercise.
    Parenthetically, tomorrow’s the day when for perhaps the first time in his life but for many times thereafter, our clueless real estate mogul masquerading as president will hear the word “no” from Nancy and Chuck, and with a House constitutionally in charge of the purse and Mueller building the gallows and tying the noose in increasingly plain view, if Trump he isn’t lying awake nights, he should be.

  9. Ed Bermila >> My least favorite genre of journalism is the retrospective “How did we miss this?”

    He also adds: “We saw these Retrospectives in waves in 2005 and 2006 as the George Wills of the world wondered aloud How We Got Iraq So Wrong. Then, as now, the answer is very simple: You got it wrong because you willfully ignored all of the disconfirming evidence in order to reach your predetermined conclusion.”
    ==================================================================

    The McMega-Media engages in their own confirmation bias all the time. The same pundits anchor these segments and they bring on a series of “experts” to reach their predetermined conclusions. This why a Noam Chomsky, Cornell West or a Chris Hedges will not be invited on Cable News. Howard Zinn was also censored by the McMega-Media, while he was alive.

    Cornell West, who did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.” https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-obama-deception-why-cornel-west-went-ballistic/

    Comments like Cornell West made are dismissed out of hand by the McMega-Media.

    For the Neo-Confederates, the election of Obama was a call to arms, any slur or lie that could be devised was used.

  10. Tom,

    Good, solid and disturbing commentary. Evidence points out that humans evolved as tribal and created “signatures” to reflect their tribes. Since the earliest humans evolved in Africa and migrated to Asia and Europe during that “Cro-magnon” era, skin color became one of those tribal things, but on a grander scale. We notice that the further original populations moved away from the equator, the less dark the skin tones. The aborigines of Australia, for example, emigrated from Papua New Guinea about 25,000 years ago. They tend to be as black as central Africans, but are from a completely different genealogy.

    As Gerald points out, the “tanning” of America will just allow different tribal expressions to occur. We still have a caveman’s instincts and brain structure, but we live in a “modern” world of gadgets, things and the ability to out-reproduce any other mammal.

  11. Western hemisphere inhabitants, as specific groups, did not seem to like one another and they were pretty much of the same linage. That is unless you read the Mormon account of where they came from.

  12. Irvin @ 10:37 am – a very astute comment. The Native Americans engaged in some bitter conflicts among themselves prior to Columbus, i.e., the Aztecs for an example. I guess there is always a way to define “the other”.

    I read somewhere that wars are always fought over resources – either access to them or denying them to someone else. The 1% manage to convince the Proles to fight the wars, even though it is the 1% who benefit the most from them.

  13. Greetings Monotonous Languor.. I once read that The United States became involved in the Korean War because of an ancient treaty called the Root/Takahari (sp) Treaty and it was because of potential monetary loss to the Japanese land owners in Korea. I was in Korea in 1952 and 53 and villagers near where I was told us of the rent they had to pay to Japanese landlords.

  14. On racism. Fredrick Douglas said the “infinite manifestations of racism” is “our national faith”.

  15. While I agree with the sentiments expressed, the referenced NYT article in fact was about why LAW ENFORCEMENT had not been tracking racist groups. They had been redirected to focusing on Islamic terrorist threats, and by the time of Charlottesville LAW ENFORCEMENT was caught completely flat-footed.

  16. I get as much pleasure as anyone from identifying others who act criminally or stupidly or tribally or all of the above but there is also work to be done. I doubt if any of these dysfunctional people were created by Obama but he got them to raise their hands so we know who they are now and in 2016 we learned how many they are.

    Fortunately it appears that sensible people who care about the country are still in the majority and the US despite the assault on it is still a democracy so that defines the work we have to do. 2018 was a practice year so we know what to work on.

    The biggest challenge facing us is unification. We got used to yelling at each other over any and all imperfections in everyone’s everything so we have to now go back to what we once had and that is finding good politicians who are close enough to our priorities and good enough to make some progress as well as clean up the Trump mess.

    We have found the enemy and he is us. Fortunately there seems to be enough sanity left in the country to get it back on track by following the Constitution. No revolution necessary at this time.

  17. Tina is correct. The blogger, as many, spouts off to get attention with an “easy win”. Anyone who has a band with that name is not trying to be civil.

    Pete is correct – da enemy is us and civility and democracy suffer…

  18. Irvin I googled Root–Takahira Agreement Signed on November 30, 1908. Implicit in the agreement was American acknowledgment of Japan’s right to annex Korea and dominance over southern Manchuria, and Japan’s acquiescence to limitations on Japanese immigration to California.

    Japan had lost WW 2, I am surprised the Koreans permitted the Japanese to own land there given the Japanese brutal rule.

    Oddly, enough when I was in Vietnam I heard some Field Grade Officers complaining about having to rent land from the South Vietnamese government for our fire bases.

    Returning to the topic of racism, or ethnocentric thinking I encountered that among the Thais, Cambodians and Vietnamese – they did not like each other. Historically, that area was fought over like Europe or the Middle East.

    I cringe whenever I hear a politicians talk about “American Exceptionalism”. I hear “American Exceptionalism” as America over All.

  19. >Pete> “…so we have to now go back to what we once had and that is IS FINDING GOOD POLITICIANS who are close enough to our priorities and good enough to make some progress as well as clean up the Trump mess.” (caps added for emphasis)

    If we found 500 Jesus Christs and sent them to Congress, Corporate bribes and threats would have them all trained to the harness in two weeks. How can anyone who knows about the lobby-money-problem express hope in any “cure” that does not begin with the overthrow of campaign finance fraud, opportunities to bribe and the ease of getting away with it?

    We must somehow make it illegal to accept huge amounts of campaign donations. We need the capability of a national referendum. With it we could establish a tax-financed campaign fund and outlaw contributions from any other source. And just as the IRS is a watchdog creation to insure we pay the taxes we should pay, with referendum powers we could create a watchdog entity that ensures that our elected officials follow the rules not only during a campaign but during their term in office. Turnabout is fair play.

  20. I don’t know if you have already read it, but the book I just finished called “Buried in the Bitter Waters” by Elliott Jasper was this powerful expose on significant racial cleansing events that happened in two counties in Indiana (Vermillion and Washington) and in quite a few other counties and states your readers might be familiar with.

    Anyway, I got to the end of the book last night and he turns to the writing and reporting process and how, in his research he came upon evidence of his own newspaper (Cox and the Atlanta Journal Constitution) had historically whitewashed racial cleansing events and failed to appropriately investigate and report stories. Of course he hadn’t PLANNED to journalists and editors at the company he worked for had acted with questionable journalistic integrity, but what he found so infuriating and revealing was their absolute failure to take accountability for their sketchy past and they proceeded to edit much of the vital reporting that he had done that was integral in communicating the harms that had resulted from these events.

    I had read Ed’s piece when it came out, but the connection to Jasper’s experience as a journalist can’t be missed.

    “We” didn’t miss a damn thing they didn’t want us to see. It was there the whole time, people just valued popularity more than they valued ethics.

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