What Should “Racism” Mean?

There’s a type of faux scandal that’s been happening … well, I haven’t exactly kept track, but it seems like there’s a new one every month or two. They all fit this pattern: President Obama does something that symbolically asserts his status as president, and the right-wing press gets outraged by how he’s “disrespecting” something-or-other related to the presidency.

So, for example, in January, 2010 this photo caused FoxNation.com to ask whether Obama was “disrespecting the Oval Office” by putting his feet up on the antique desk.

Of course, it didn’t take long to uncover similar photos of previous presidents, none of which had raised any particular outrage at the time. But everybody forgot again, and so we had an almost identical flap last September. “This just makes me furious,” one woman tweeted. “He was raised so badly.”

Or remember last May when marines held umbrellas over President Obama and visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. Horrors! He’s treating our revered warriors like servants! How dare he! It was front-page news.

Once again, it wasn’t too hard to find similar photos of previous presidents, which weren’t front-page news — or any kind of outrage at all.
Other such “scandals” involve the First Lady: Did you know that Michelle had the audacity to wear an expensive gown to a recent state dinner, like first ladies have been doing, well, forever? Compare to this 2005 WaPo column in which Laura Bush is said to look “regal” — and that’s a compliment. Until 2009, the First Lady was supposed to look regal. Remember Jackie Kennedy? But when Michelle dresses up, she’s Marie Antoinette.

The Obama’s vacations are another issue, and how much taxpayers spend to protect them outside the White House. But of course when the Bush twins celebrated their 25th birthdays in Buenos Aires, nobody cared what it cost the Secret Service to keep them safe in an exotic locale. They were the president’s daughters, so of course we protected them.

The entire White House lifestyle is an issue: The Obamas are “living large” claimed National Review (and mentioned Marie Antoinette again). The Washington Post fact-checker investigated and concluded: “there appears to be no appreciable difference between Obama’s expenses and Bush’s.” If you read the NR article carefully — and most of the other articles raising this faux issue — you’ll realize they never said there was. It’s just that the Bushes living large never bothered anybody.

Town Hall criticized the extravagance of having Beyonce perform at the Obama White House. But when Frank Sinatra performed for the Reagans, nobody looked at it that way. Why would they?

Even the Obamas’ Christmas cards became an issue. This one, from 2011, disrespects the Christian holiday because it is secular and features the president’s dog:

But this one, from the Bushes in 2005, is fine.

I could go on and on. Whenever President Obama acts like the President of the United States, or the Obamas act like the First Family, it just looks wrong to a lot of people.

So here’s the $64,000 question: Is that racist?

It depends on what you think racist means. Conservatives will not only answer the question “No”, they’ll be insulted that you even raised it (and will probably launch into their canned everybody-who-disagrees-with-Obama-is-a-racist-to-you-people riff). That’s because conservatives have adopted a very restricted definition of racism: Racism is conscious hatred towards people of another race.

So, those white folks who didn’t even notice when Reagan’s or JFK’s feet were on the desk, but who see Obama’s and think “He was raised so badly.” — are they also secretly thinking “Who does that uppity nigger think he is, acting like he’s a real president or something?” Maybe a few here or there, but mostly no. They aren’t consciously hating Obama because he’s black. But they can’t look at a black president the same way they looked at the 43 white presidents. Things just look different when Obama does them.

What do you call that?

I’m asking that question seriously, not rhetorically. I sympathize with people who want to reserve racism for Adolf Hitler ordering the Final Solution to the Jewish problem or George Wallace standing in the door to block black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. The men who lynched Emmett Till or the grand jury that refused to indict them — those people were racists. I get that it doesn’t seem right to put them in the same category with the people who only just realized in 2009 that life in the White House is pretty sweet.

But all the same, lots of whites look at Obama and can’t think “president” without thinking “black president” — and they go on to judge his actions more harshly than those of white presidents. They go on to treat him with less respect than white presidents have always received — like interrupting the State of the Union to yell “You lie!” or questioning his birth certificate when there was never any reason to do so. (This satire, which applies the same standards to Ronald Reagan’s birth certificate, is hilarious precisely because it would never have been taken seriously.)

Congressmen saying it would be “a dream come true” to impeach the President (while admitting they have no evidence of an impeachable offense), or listening patiently while constituents publicly say the President “should be executed as an enemy combatant” — that would have been unthinkable during the 43 white administrations. But today it’s considered acceptable behavior.

If you don’t want to call it racism, fine. But it’s a real phenomenon; it needs a name. What do you call it?

I’ve narrowed my focus to President Obama, but really the phenomenon is much broader. For example, read Tim Wise’s “What if the Tea Party Were Black?” or just about anything about Trayvon Martin. If Michael Dunn had been a black man shooting up a car full of white boys, I doubt jurors would have bought his I-thought-I-saw-a-gun argument.

For a lot of whites who don’t harbor any conscious racial malice, things just look different when blacks do them. What do you call that?

Teasing out the different stances that might be called “racism” is at least half the value of Ian Haney Lopez’ recent book Dog Whistle Politics. Lopez notes that racism changes from one era to the next, and somebody changes it. “Racism is not disappearing,” he says, “it’s adapting.”

Lopez uses the word “racism” for most of the possible meanings, and differentiates with adjectives. Here are some of the ones he finds:

  • racism-as-hate. The most restrictive definition, and the most comforting for whites. “For the public at large, racism-as-hate provides self-protecting clarity: if racists are like those in the 1950s who screamed at black school children and burned crosses, then most everyone can safely conclude that they, at least, are not racists. … Since conservatives on the Supreme Court adopted a malice conception of racism in 1979, when using this approach the Court has rejected every claim of discrimination against nonwhites brought before it.”
  • structural or institutional racism. This is racial injustice that seems to be the fault of nobody in particular, because it’s embedded in the way society works. Vicious cycles (like poverty leading to dysfunctional behavior which leads back to poverty) may trace back to past sins like slavery or Jim Crow, but now they are self-replicating. “Structural racism is racism without racists. All that said, precisely because institutional racism implies a need to change society, it was rejected long ago by conservatives, including those on the Supreme Court who repudiated this understanding of racism in the early 1970s.”
  • implicit bias. This is the it-just-looks-different response I have been describing, or the kind that shows up in Implicit Association Test you can take online.
  • commonsense racism. “The social world through which we move reflects centuries of racism that extends right up to the present. But this is hard to grasp in its particulars. Instead, we see clearly only the results, and with the underlying causes hidden, we tend to accept the extant world as a testament to the implacable truth of racial stereotypes.” The commonsense racists “are not hate-filled bigots but decent folks who see racial injustice as a normal feature of society. … For many, it simply seems ‘true,’ an unquestioned matter of commonsense, that blacks prefer welfare to work, that undocumented immigrants breed crime, and that Islam spawns violence.”
  • strategic racism. New appeals to racial prejudice and new rationalizations for racial injustice don’t create themselves. When the old racial manipulations stop working, somebody figures out new ones. “Strategic racism refers to purposeful efforts to use racial animus as leverage to gain material wealth, political power, or heightened social standing. … [B]ecause strategic racism is strategic, it is not fundamentally about race. … [S]trategic racists act out of avarice rather than animus.”

Lopez retells a lot of American history to illustrate how when one avenue for racial injustice was blocked, another was usually found in short order. (His discussion of how in the Reconstruction Era convict leasing developed into a new form of forced black labor to replace slavery, and continued in that form well into the 20th century, was new and eye-opening to me.) He sees this not as blind evolution, but as clever people working out the new arrangements and constructing ways to rationalize them to the masses.

Lopez also describes the usual course of racial conversation these days: If you introduce any of the above ideas into a conversation, conservatives will interpret it as an explicit or veiled accusation of racism-as-hate; you are saying they are like the white supremacists who yelled obscenities at the black little girls trying to integrate public schools. They will experience this as an injustice, and then see themselves as the victims rather than the people whose suffering you were trying to point out.

Strategic racists have turned this into

the rhetorical punch, parry, and kick of dog whistle racial jujitsu. Here are the basic moves: (1) punch racism into the conversation through references to culture, behavior, and class; (2) parry claims of race-baiting by insisting that absent a direct reference to biology or the use of a racial epithet, there can be no racism; (3) kick up the racial attack by calling any critics the real racists for mentioning race and thereby “playing the race card.”

“Most racists,” Lopez recognizes, like the South African whites Lopez met during the apartheid era “are good people. This is not a book about bad people. It is about all of us.” Most whites — even the most conservative whites — are not haters. But so many on the Right have been trained in the recast-yourself-as-the-victim reflex that it has become hard to have any kind of discussion at all about the more subtle and pervasive forms of racism. And until we get to the bottom of that, our democracy will always be vulnerable to the manipulations of the strategic racists.

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  • David Linden  On February 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’ll start be defining “racism” as “racist bigotry.” One of your other articles today is about “sexual orientation bigotry.” (I haven’t seen the over-arching Sift intro; maybe that’s your theme.) I see bigotry as being on a spectrum, perhaps many spectra, from the mild to the hateful. I have a memory of something you wrote many years ago, which applied to me: I’m a bigot. I like to think I’m a mild one. If somebody cuts me off in traffic, I react differently if it is a man or woman or white or black. I’m not proud of it. And I notice it and strive not to have it alter my actions. And, like something you also wrote a while ago, I do my damnedest not to have it leak to my kids, so that they don’t get the subconscious tainting that I did. (I have a memory of my mother telling me my grandfather doesn’t like blacks, and I didn’t see a black family until 6th grade.) It takes a generation or two for attitudes to be released to any great degree. So yes, I’m a bigot. Mild. In recovery. Something like that.

    To get back to your question: I would indeed call these “it just looks wrong” things racist. I feel trying to find another word for it covers it up. It isn’t the Hitler-style racist. Yet it is racist. It’s a spectrum. I can appreciate (well, maybe not) conservatives trying to find every little item to disqualify a policy-maker they don’t like. They went after the Clintons with Whitewater and Lewinsky. But the _frenzy_ they are doing so with Obama, and the frenzy they have whipped up in their constituents… that goes beyond policy dislike, and Occam’s razor points me to racism.

  • ggbolt16  On February 17, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Reblogged this on Reflections of a Pastor Couple and commented:
    This is an amazing array of questions that seem to break down a lot of what I have been feeling when attempting to have conversations about white privilege. I will have to pick up Lopez’s book.

  • ggbolt16  On February 17, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Reblogged at nebraskabolts.wordpress.com and commented:

    “This is an amazing array of questions that seem to break down a lot of what I have been feeling when attempting to have conversations about white privilege. I will have to pick up Lopez’s book.”

  • Anonymous  On February 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Isn’t “prejudiced” the word you’re looking for?

  • Tom Metzger  On February 18, 2014 at 11:26 am

    It seems to me RACISM is just the new RED SCARE!

    • weeklysift  On February 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      I think you’re going to have to flesh that out. At the moment it just looks like throwing words together.

      • Heath Norman  On February 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        I think it’s intuitively obvious. Though based on a false premise since the “red scare” didn’t happen as most people think. That’s what happens if you get most of you historical information from TV and movies.
        But the meme goes something like this: the evil Right accused Left leaning anybodies, or simply people they disagreed with, of being a Communist in order to discredit or outright “black list” them. Similarly, the Left of today uses the term Racism against the Right.

      • weeklysift  On February 22, 2014 at 8:03 am

        Thanks. Now I know what the claim is.

        I will point out that none of the faux scandals I talked about had any relationship to a legitimate policy discussion. Conservatives aren’t accused of racism when they simply criticize Obama. They’re accused of racism when they try to discredit him by associating him with racial stereotypes, or (as in the examples I gave) promote outrage against actions that don’t bother them when white presidents do them.

      • johnarkansawyer  On February 25, 2014 at 3:44 am

        That Tom Metzger?

      • Tom Metzger  On February 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

        Yes that Tom Metzger

  • jjn  On February 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Good questions. One refinement to offer: I don’t think the reaction to Obama is any longer merely racism. I think another big psychological contributor to the way he is perceived are the deeply flawed (to the right’s thinking) liberal ideals and goals the right believes he personifies. He represents a profile, a caricature of the corrosive and morally weak intellectual cosmopolitan secular liberal socialists who are destroying the country and attacking what made America great. In other words, I think the term “tribal” is more precise than “racist” is. Yes, Obama represents the “other” and that triggers all sorts of knee jerk responses that the Bushes did not in identical situations, but that “other” tribe isn’t defined wholly by race, but by a whole complex of associations (many of which are projected, not real, in my mind, as I see Obama as a pretty tepid liberal – more of a pragmatist, really).

    • Tom Metzger  On February 19, 2014 at 7:18 am

      In a poker game it doesn’t matter whose cheating if the game itself is fixed.Obama is just the latest pawn.All the rest were pawns also.

      • ina  On February 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

        no wonder Obama is cheating at this poker game…… there are no chess pieces in poker !!!

  • Erica  On February 19, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Is the Obama hating really any worse than the Bush=Hitler or Bush=chimp memes? That’s just the nature of politics today, unfortunately. If it’s not unique to the current (black) president, can it meaningfully be called racism?

    • Anthony  On February 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      I think yes, for the reasons mentioned in the article/post. The hatred expressed toward the Bush presidency was not a function of his race, but a function of something else (his stupidity, his policies, his rhetoric, his wealth, etc.). I take it as a given that prejudices that target factors over which an individual has (little to) no control over (like race, gender, disability, etc.) are worse than other prejudices (that target individual’s choices or actions).

      • Erica  On February 19, 2014 at 4:04 pm

        You assume that Obama is hated because he’s black. Maybe he’s just hated (by some) because he’s a Democrat, just like Bush was hated (by some) because he’s a Republican? Is there any evidence otherwise?

    • Anonymous  On February 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      The difference is no major news outlet I’m aware of promoted the Bush=Hitler or chimp meme.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 2:52 am

        I googled “Bush Hitler” and found results from CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and names like Matthews, Maddow, and Olbermann. Took two minutes. Your argument falls.

      • weeklysift  On February 22, 2014 at 7:57 am

        I wonder if you really did that googling. When I put “bush hitler” into Google, the first two screens did not have any of the links you describe. I quit at that point.

        When I put “bush hitler maddow” into Google, I get a “Meet the Press” clip where Dick Armey falsely claimed that MoveOn ran a Bush = Hitler ad, and Rachel Maddow shot him down.

        If Rachel really did promote the Bush = Hitler meme, it shouldn’t be hard to post a link to it. Happy Googling.

    • weeklysift  On February 20, 2014 at 7:10 am

      I’ll agree with Anonymous on this one. On the fringes of the Left, you can find examples of Bush hatred that was as vile and over-the-top as the current Obama hatred. What’s different is that Obama-hatred is mainstream on the Right. It’s expressed by congressmen and major opinion-leaders. All the faux scandals I highlighted got major-media coverage.

      What brings this home to me is the contrast between Birtherism and Trutherism. Major Democrats wanted no part of Trutherism; Van Jones got fired when he got painted as sympathetic to Truthers, even though he denied it. But major Republicans winked and nodded at Birthers. They still do. (When is Ted Cruz going to denounce his Dad?)

      Just this week, the Republican candidate for governor of Texas stood on a podium with a man who has recently called Obama a “subhuman mongrel”. If you can find a parallel to that with Bush and a high-profile Democrat, I’m all ears.

      • Heath Norman  On February 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        “On the fringes of the Left”? Apparently you don’t watch MSNBC. Or read the DailyKos. Or Democrat Underground. Or…

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 2:57 am

        CNN promotes a mockumentary about the assassination of George Bush. Now, if FoxNews gave any kind of airtime to a movie which showed Obama begin assassinated, how would you respond? Check and mate, my friend.

      • weeklysift  On February 22, 2014 at 7:51 am

        For those of you (practically everybody, I would guess) who have no idea what Anonymous is referring to, here’s the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_a_President_%282006_film%29

        “Promotes”? CNN once interviewed the director of a controversial film, which they refused to run ads for.

        “Death of a President” did not become popular on the Left. I never saw it. No one I knew ever talked about it.

        From the Wikipedia description, the assassination was a device to get the plot started. (What would restrictions on freedom would the country accept afterward?) It wasn’t a snuff flick inviting people to fantasize about killing Bush. The point seems to be: If you killed him, things would get much, much worse.

        So no, I don’t feel checked and mated by this. In fact, this is kind of typical of the false equivalency the Right uses to justify its extremists.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm

        I’ll reply to you here for the comment above.


        While I don’t particularly like conservative sources, this one still has the MoveOn ad:


        The problem with Maddow’s argument is that MoveOn hosted the videos on their site until backlash caused them to take it down.


        Again, if FoxNews hosted a “contest” like this and supported these videos until an outcry forced them to take it down, how would you react?

        You’re right, it wasn’t hard to find these, so I want to know how you didn’t? Your credibility keeps taking direct hits.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        Now you’re changing the rules. And we’re getting rather close to yourself falling into the racist trap. If a movie were made depicting President Obama being assassinated, and FoxNews interviewed the director (complete with showing scenes from the movie) how would this be interpreted?

        I guarantee you, you would not be quite as relaxed. Is it because it would be different showing a black president being assassinated rather than a white president? Would showing Obama being assassinated be okay so long as it ‘got the plot started’?

        Let’s look at the Ted Nugent mongrel comment. I haven’t heard a single major conservative support Nugen’ts comment. In fact, they condemned it. Yet, you use it as an evidence of institutional racism. So, the fact that this movie didn’t become popular among the left is irrelevant.

        And I’m not an extremist. I don’t think what CNN did was nefarious, just like I think your post is misguided. However, under your more relaxed rules, their actions more than meet the standards.

        And I think you’ve fallen into your own trap of being unintentionally racist.

      • Tom Metzger  On February 23, 2014 at 6:00 pm

        There is such a movie where an Obama look alike President is nearly killed .Its called “SUDDENLY”

      • weeklysift  On February 23, 2014 at 8:17 am

        The story of the Bush-Hitler ad is told here: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/06/us/the-2004-campaign-advertising-bush-hitler-ads-draw-criticism.html

        The ad was one of 1500 submissions uploaded to the MoveOn web site. A MoveOn spokesman said: “we had no idea the Hitler thing even existed” prior to the conservative uproar.

        It was immediately taken down without anyone at MoveOn ever endorsing or defending it. Dick Armey then claimed on Meet the Press that MoveOn “ran those ads that compared Bush with Adolph Hitler”, as you can see here: http://mediamatters.org/video/2009/08/16/maddow-corrects-armey-moveon-never-ran-an-ad-th/153373

        I’m not sure when anonymous thinks I claimed the ad never existed, so I don’t see the hit on my credibility.

        As for the “Death of a President” movie, I can easily imagine liberals being fine with a movie showing the assassination of Obama, if it were handled properly. (After all, we imagine Obama getting assassinated all the time. Lots of liberals are surprised he’s lived this long.) “The West Wing” showed an assassination attempt on a Clinton-like Democratic president while Clinton was still in office, and I don’t recall liberals objecting to it.

        If a movie made the assassin a sympathetic character, or implied Obama deserved to be killed, or if it worked out details of how someone might successfully assassinate Obama — that I’d have a problem with. I haven’t seen any indication “Death of a President” did any of that — though, as I said, I haven’t seen the film. Hardly anybody did.

        I can’t see any bias on CNN’s part here. They interview people who make controversial movies, like the folks who made “The Path to 9-11” that smeared Bill Clinton. http://mediamatters.org/research/2006/09/08/cnn-fox-abc-hosts-ignored-key-issues-in-intervi/136592

      • weeklysift  On February 26, 2014 at 7:17 am

        Thanks, Tom. The IMDB entry on “Suddenly” is here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2569236/

  • Tony Setliff  On February 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    If you truly believe I “dis-approve” of Obama and his horrid job performance because of the color of his skin…. and if he looked like…. lets say… Jimmy Carter…. I would magically approve of him… then your just nuts.

    That is like saying…. because I’m furious at how Benghazi was handled, not because we refused to send help to our Americans as fast and as soon as we could… but because Hilary Clinton is a woman.. that’s my only issue.. I’m just a woman hater…. Really???

    I think being un-presidential stands out MORE when your doing a bad job….. just like at your office…. A lawyers whose bringing in millions of dollars to the firm and everyone loves because he is positive.. non divisive … makes you proud to be part of that firm.. might not get noticed with his feet up on his desk…

    But the lawyer who is negative… loses his cases… and always blames someone else…..and costing the firm millions…. is gonna PISS PEOPLE OFF having the nerve to put his feet up on his desk…. Make any sense?

    The left is soooo obsessed over skin color that they can not even consider that any disagreement can be actually because hes doing bad things….. and you know why…. BECAUSE YOU DON’T THINK HES DOING BAD THINGS!!!

    Endless lies… cover-ups…. nonstop blaming others…. NEVER his fault… abuse of office… more and more and more jobs lost as they keep trying to find a new way to show unemployment to make it “look” better…..you are SO busy “excusing” his failures and seeking where “the right did bad things too!!”
    Did Reagan spend every week making things worse and all he could reply was “Boo Hoo Jimmy Carter caused me to inherit a messs… its all his fault” NO>> NEVER ONCE!!

    Didn’t your mother ever teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

    If I’m a “Raciest” for disapproving of the job of a half black man …and disapprove of Hilary Clinton because shes a woman because I’m a sexist ….. then will you explain to me how I can …at the same time… desire that Condoleezza Rice run for president in 2016???

    How can that be?? Shes a WOMMAANNN OMG..and .. heres the kicker… shes 100% black….. not just a half black… shhess allllllll bbllaccckkkkk !!!!

    Oh wait…. she is a “conservative” Black Woman …. so she doesn’t count… yeah.. I know how your side thinks.

    You see …. how can you write an piece on racism and you do not fully grasp what the word actually means…



    noun: racism

    The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

    If we are raciest … why did George Bush appoint more people of color when he took office than Obama? (I’ll let you think on that for awhile)

    See here is where the left and the right part ways….. You as liberals have all these rules.. and your sooo good at surrounding the wagons around your own.. excusing and defending bad behavior by invoking labels…(Your homophobic …your a raciest .. your a sexist… etc..) and I admit.. it really works.
    You change entire conversations and totally deflect the wrong doings of your own by putting people on the defensive and not even engaging in the discussion of if the person in question was wrong or not. Well played. We are wrong for not standing our ground more .

    But the dirty little secret is ….you pick and choose … you will defend a black man…. but ONLY if he is a liberal black man…. Clarence Thomas .Herman Cain … Bahhh .. hes a conservative… so hes not rreeaallly black and doesn’t count.

    Sarah Palin ….. shes a woman… but shes a conservative… so its ooooookkkk to bash her … shes no liberal so shes not a rreallll woman.

    Conservatives truly don’t care what color you are …. you do good.. your good.. you do bad… your bad…. its really that simple.

    Liberals are the ones that feel everyone is in some “class’…. a bunch of little groups…. and this group needs this and that group needs that and this one you gotta treat this way and that group you gotta treat that way….if anyone treats anyone else “differently” based on race religion.. creed …sex… it is your side.

    We actually want the same rules for all.. equal treatment for all … DONE!

    You really need to go out… sit down… and talk to conservatives… not the elite nut jobs that BOTH our sides have… just regular folks who just want to be safe.. care for their families.. and be left alone….. the people you hang out with seem to have a really bad attitude . I’m just an old Appliance repairman in Atlanta Georgia….I don’t have a great education…. not much money… no claim to fame … would kill to have your writing skills… you got me to read your entire post even after I blatantly disagreed with it. You did your job 🙂

    But I will tell you this …. every time you want to paint a scarlet letter of some “label” on my sides foreheads simply because we disagree with your side…. I am going to wash it off and stand up to all of you and call you out for it . I am not a Republican or a Democrat …. wrong is wrong and your little groups don’t get a pass… and I’m not afraid of the names your going to call me simply because your parents never taught you how to agree to disagree.

    Good Day

    Tony Setliff

    • weeklysift  On February 20, 2014 at 7:27 am

      I believe conservatives would disapprove of Obama if he were white, but they would disapprove differently, with more respect. I picked out the examples I did precisely because they weren’t ideological — both Bush’s and Obama’s Christmas cards were just Christmas cards.

      I started writing this blog during the Bush administration, which I criticized constantly. I criticized Bush’s wars, I criticized his torture policy, I didn’t like his economic priorities. I was down on his performance as president pretty much across the board. But I didn’t again and again go after him personally (or his wife or his kids) the way the Right goes after Obama. I had my doubts about whether he really won the election, but once he was sworn in, he was President, for better or worse.

      Thank you for the compliment on my writing. Your style is different, but it has a compelling directness. I read your comment all the way to the end too.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 3:09 am

        From SF Chronicle: “Laura Bush, docile doormat: Behold, the ideal Republican wife: Prim, sexless, nearly useless, lets the men do the real thinkin’. Hot!” Also, calling the Bush daughters “alcoholics” b/c of underage drinking and saying there may be mental issues involved? And, please, please don’t act like the only criticisms Bush endured were simply matters of policy.

        I understand that you want these attacks to be racist. They are easier to shrug off, and easier to convince yourself that the other side should not be taken seriously. Your argument falls.

      • weeklysift  On February 22, 2014 at 7:36 am

        Let’s start with the fact that I had never heard of Mark Morford until I googled the quote you gave. Next, the article has zero comments attached to it. And everything else that google gave me came from conservative responses to Morford, not from liberals cheering him on.

        I have no problem saying Morford was over the top. Admitting that does nothing to invalidate the legitimate criticisms of Bush.

        But the conservative commenters on this post can’t make a similar admission. All of you seem to IDENTIFY with these attacks on Obama, and take personally the suggestion that they might be racist.

        Why is that?

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        Calling Bush’s daughters alcoholics and suggesting they had mental problems was actually Joan Walsh. I am sure you’ve heard of her. I never said it invalidated legitimate criticisms of Bush. Your contention is that the Left never attacked Bush’s wife and daughters the same way the Right has attacked Obama’s (by giving their vacation location). Hence, the right’s attack must be racist

        I take this personally not because I’m conservative (which I’m not), but because I have zero patience for either side making claims which are demonstrably false. Since I have shown that such attacks existed during a white presidency, your contention that these are racially motivated is drawn severely into question.

      • weeklysift  On February 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

        I invite readers to read the Joan Walsh column, (which is here: http://www.salon.com/2001/05/31/twins_2/ ) to see how Anonymous has mischaracterized it. In particular, Walsh does not “call Bush’s daughters alcoholics”.

        Also Walsh is responding to actual newsworthy events: trying to buy alcohol with a false ID, etc. She handles the material carefully. I can only hope that conservative writers would treat the Obama girls so respectfully, if they ever do anything similar.

    • lonemtn  On February 2, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Ms. Rice is 51% African, 40% European and 9% Asian/Native American. So it appears that she may have more than a drop or two of ‘white’ blood in her.

  • Tony Setliff  On February 20, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Thank you for the nicest thing ever said to me about my writing… made my day 🙂

  • Shauna Crafts  On February 20, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I think Tony hit the nail on the head when he mentioned the labeling. Is it truly a form of racism or is it labeling. Because honestly being a conservative leaning female myself I am tired of the vilification that come from any news source for being that way. The vilification comes from all sides and instead you have given it the name racism when it applies to the Conservatives going after the Liberal President. I don’t care about the color of his skin. What I do not like his continual bait and switch or delays in implementing policies, that while I don’t like them he has passed through the system legitimately, that he now sees as more effective to delay. That irritates me and many others. It makes him look weak, ineffective, and playing the political game for his parties gain. When there are complaints it gets that label of racism. It is not racism, for a man who is just as much white as he is black. He is not all of one thing and belongs to two sides so why is he insistent on treating Conservatives like they are the enemy. As he has found out when you continually alienate one side you are going to find, while blaming them, you get less done. All the examples you noted they were definitely more partisan in their dealings. Nor were they so quick to shift blame as our current President. Interestingly enough you left out our last two term Democratic President and his debacle in office. He finished his term fully, and still enjoyed better ratings. Could it be that he improved lives even while messing up in his own. I ask before you label something as racism do go talk to the other side and find out why he is disliked. You might find that it has more to do in this day and age with his policies then with his feet up on a desk. This world is much more culturally aware and forward moving then you give it credit for in your article. Racism will always exist but I think that disliking and disagreeing should not get that label.

    • weeklysift  On February 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I’m curious why you think this article attacks conservatives.

      I described a series of events where Obama was vilified for something previous presidents got away with, and summed up with “But all the same, lots of whites look at Obama and can’t think ‘president’ without thinking ‘black president’ — and they go on to judge his actions more harshly than those of white presidents.”

      At what point did you begin to identify with the people I’m criticizing? And why? I don’t say, or even suggest, that all criticism of Obama is based on race or that all conservatives are racially motivated. Those are conclusions you jumped to on your own. Why?

      • Heath Norman  On February 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        I’m sorry, this is utterly asinine. If you truly don’t get it, I’m baffled and maybe you have a giant pile of your own “implicit bias” to work through. If you do get it, then you’re once again labeling and calling names to put the other side on the defensive or just leave the argument rather than engaging in debate and discussion.
        Every one of your examples was grossly distorted. You cited “scandals” then spoke for the other side rather than actually quoting the other side. Save for one ordinary, unknown woman who Tweeted?
        The entire first half of the article was about various “scandals” and those who were outraged. What part does the President belong to? To what political ideology does he identify? You even cite some more conservative publications…and you wonder why we think this is an attack on conservatives?
        Could the criticism possibly be because of the gross and glaring hypocrisy between rhetoric and action? Could it there be righteous indignation at someone’s lavish lifestyle not for the lifestyle per se, but because that person goes around vilifying excess and the rich while claiming to be a champion of the little guy?
        “That’s because conservatives have adopted a very restricted definition of racism: Racism is conscious hatred towards people of another race.” And again, you wonder why some might see this as a hit piece on Conservatives? You wonder when those people might identify with the people you’re criticizing?
        “But they can’t look at a black president the same way they looked at the 43 white presidents. Things just look different when Obama does them.” And you wonder why some of us are, rightly, offended as all heck?

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 3:16 am

        From your article:

        “Conservatives will not only answer the question “No”, they’ll be insulted that you even raised it (and will probably launch into their canned everybody-who-disagrees-with-Obama-is-a-racist-to-you-people riff). That’s because conservatives have adopted a very restricted definition of racism: Racism is conscious hatred towards people of another race.

        So, those white folks who didn’t even notice when Reagan’s or JFK’s feet were on the desk, but who see Obama’s and think “He was raised so badly.” — are they also secretly thinking “Who does that uppity nigger think he is, acting like he’s a real president or something?” Maybe a few here or there, but mostly no. They aren’t consciously hating Obama because he’s black. But they can’t look at a black president the same way they looked at the 43 white presidents. Things just look different when Obama does them.”

        The implication here is that conservatives aren’t racist under their definition; but under a more inclusive definition of racism, they are. In one of your comments, you say it a bit more explicitly:

        “I believe conservatives would disapprove of Obama if he were white, but they would disapprove differently, with more respect.”

        Check and mate.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 3:20 am

        Sorry to double-post, but we should use your litmus test. Did you say all conservatives are racially motivated? No. Does your article more than imply that conservatives are significantly afftected by Obama’s race and, therefore, racist under this ‘new’ type of racism? Yes. Yes it does.

      • weeklysift  On February 22, 2014 at 8:14 am

        I think you’re all doing a better job of smearing conservatives than I did. I pointed out that there is a type of attack on Obama that is either motivated by or takes advantage of an implicit bias against blacks. I never implied that all conservatives or all attacks against Obama are so motivated.

        A conservative might look at all those examples and say, “Yeah, there is a small group of racially motivated folks who claim to be conservatives so that they can attack the black president, but that’s not really who we are. Real conservatives have plenty of legitimate objections to Obama and don’t have to stoop to this stuff.”

        But that’s not what you did. You instantly IDENTIFIED with the people making the biased attacks, and interpreted criticism of them as criticism of all conservatives.

      • Anonymous  On February 22, 2014 at 5:28 pm

        Incorrect. You are backpedaling now, while at the same time trying to call me racist without explicitly calling me racist. Your argument is that conservatives aren’t racist according to their own definition, which is overtly racist. I’ll agree that there are explicit racists, and that those attacks are idiotic and detract from real debate.

        But you don’t allow that. “They aren’t consciously hating Obama because he’s black. But they can’t look at a black president the same way they looked at the 43 white presidents. Things just look different when Obama does them.” At this point in the article, you aren’t talking about explicit racists. You are talking about this poorly-defined ‘they’–the one’s who aren’t explicit racists. At which point you define a looser definition of racist. And, whether you admit it or not, you reference “Conservatives…” not “some conservatives”, or “a few conservatives,” just conservatives in general. Perhaps you did not mean it that way? Nonetheless, it is there in black and white, and rather than admitting that perhaps you language is not as clear as it could be, you imply some of us are racist.

        So here’s an answer to your question. You’ve kept playing the race card, rather than speaking openly about whether your article is misguided. And it becomes even more egregious because I’m not conservative. I just don’t agree with your analysis. But you keep telling me I identify with a group of people I don’t identify with in the slightest–simply because I’m refuting your article.

        Poor form, sir. Poor form.

      • weeklysift  On February 23, 2014 at 8:33 am

        The word “conservative” does not appear in the article until I start talking about how conservatives define racism, and that statement is entirely accurate. In no way do I imply that the prejudiced criticisms of Obama are typical of all criticism of Obama or typical of all conservatives. Only the commenters are doing that.

  • Anonymous  On February 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Let me preface my statement by saying that I am not a politician nor an academic. I am one of the working poor, with something to say on the subject of race. There are some people who will not admit to the truth under any circumstances. I refuse to be bullied into shying away from identifying racism when and wherever I see it, feel it or hear of it. Simply because some people refuse to look it directly in the eye and call it out, does not prevent me from so doing. I really do not require anyone’s agreement. As an African American woman, I know what racism is in all its forms in every aspect of my life because I live with it every day. It is not an abstract philosophical concept to me. I don’t have to search for it. Racism is as much a part of my daily life as the air I breathe.

    To answer your question, of course its racism. The world did not come to an end, as was predicted by some, when we elected Mr. Obama as president. Thus those seers must attempt to vilify him and his legacy. I don’t think that President Obama is a saint or savior. Nor do I think that everything he does is perfect. He is a man duly elected as President of the United States of America, doing the best he can under horrific circumstances.

  • Tony Setliff  On February 22, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I think the point many of us are trying to make is .. Race does not matter in how we judge Obama … which is refuting your piece…Only one person in all these comments actually believe we are all raciest and that was the one raciest who posted that we were all racists…lol .

    If there is ANY doubt that we are against Obama because of the content of he character and not the color of his skin …. then are the black people in The national Black Republican association raciest too who oppose Obama for the exact same reasons we do? If not… explain the difference…


    If anyone judges the EXACT SAME opinion given by two men “differently” simply based on the color of their skin…. who really is the person with the race problem?

  • Dr. Glenn King  On February 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Sometimes the term “racism” is misused, as when it is confused with ethnocentrism. Properly used,it is a vague concept with different levels and phases. This column, for example, refers to implicit racism in which the racist is not aware that his reaction is based one race. It is also important to distinguish between passive racism (no more than a feeling) and active racism (willingness or desire to act out). Active racism varies from name-calling to lynching. Lumping all of these together creates unnecessary confusion and conflict (e.g. treating a passive and/or implicit racist as the same kind of virulent enemy as a vicious agitator).

  • Tony Setliff  On February 22, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Ok….Ive read all the comments ….. its kinda going no where…. you seem to be an intelligent man.. yet the premise of your post has been obliterated ….
    but instead of just sucking it up and admitting possibly your wrong…. you are now attempting to ask us to ignore that you used the term raciest repeatedly and that you mentioned conservatives as well….

    I will admit that you are catching some of the heat that has been built up by many of us who are sick and tired of people ….and I truly believe this… who I think actually want us to have lower expectations of Obama… because he is black. They think we should turn a blind eye to the facts…. be nicer and excuse lying and terrible leadership because he is black.

    Now.. like you accuse us…. you will claim. “I never said this words” … well.. if you can twist our words into words we actually never said and “come to the conclusion” that we must be against Obama because he is black….. then using your own ways… why can’t we in turn call you raciest for expecting us to treat Obama “differently” than any other man who has lied and failed as badly as he has?

    Feel the heat in your cheeks?…. feel the desire to come out swinging….. how dare anyone infer your a raciest simply because you disagree with us……

    Now your starting to understand why your post is not only wrong… but insulting.

    Obama is incompetent … he is not qualified to be president and he proves it time and time again…. the only two defense’s I hear are either its all Bush’s fault…. or “well other Presidents made mistakes too.

    We are done with the white guilt method of making us hide in the closet due to the sins of our great grandfathers….

    Unless you truly feel all the people who have responded to you here telling you that your wrong “ARE AGAINST “”ALL” BLACK PEOPLE” …. then you must at least concede that the term “raciest” should have never been used .. because it is wrong.

    Words mean things.

    • weeklysift  On February 23, 2014 at 8:37 am

      At this point, I am content to let readers judge for themselves whether “the premise of [my] post has been obliterated.”

    • Kate  On February 24, 2014 at 11:47 am

      Tony, it seems as if your argument is actually proving the premise of Doug’s article, not refuting it.

      The question at hand is how we define racism, and should it be limited to explicit, extreme actions of hatred motived by race, or should it also apply to subtler, implicit biases that make it easier for people to criticize President Obama for things that other Presidents have also done?

      Clearly, you believe the former – racism (there is no ‘e’ in the word racism/racist btw) including only explicit hatred of all Black people. Your argument that you want Condoleezza Rice to run for President and thereby you are not racist or sexist is akin to those who say “but some of my best friends are Black/gay/women”.

      Of course it is ok to disagree with someone based on their policies, but to say that President Obama “is not qualified to be President” – what do you mean by that? Are you saying he is lacking in credentials that all other Presidents have had? If so, what are those? It’s remarks like those that can come across as predicated on the belief that black men have more to prove (the old adage about working twice as hard to get half as far comes to mind). The President worked as a State Senator for 7 years,and a US Senator for 3 years before becoming President – how is he unqualified to hold public office? (George W. Bush only served as Governor for 5 years before becoming President.)

      It’s also important to remember that, as a previous commenter pointed out, racism is alive and well in the United States, and many people still encounter the adverse affects in their daily lives – it is not simply the sins of our great grandfathers, but a persistent cultural reality that continues to disadvantage people of color in this country.

      Finally, yes, words do matter. Which is why this post exists. It is important to label things by their proper names in order to expose them for what they really are. Many (not all, but many) of the attacks on the President (in the mainstream, not the fringes) are racist, and they deserve to be called out as such. By calling them something else, we are implicitly condoning them, as well as similar, daily injustices that keep many people of color trapped in cycles of poverty and violence (not to mention the racial problems with the criminal justice system).

  • Anonymous  On February 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you for confirming my suspicions about white liberal racism. This article is another disgusting example of White folks commandeering Black existence in order to promote a partisan political agenda. Nice work!

  • cindygross  On February 23, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Befriending Dragons and commented:
    Racism isn’t dead, it just keeps morphing. And spreading. And multiplying. Take all those things you see about racism and add in sexism, homophobia, and other “isms”. Be aware and stop doing it. It isn’t some mysterious other doing it – it’s mainstream Americans.

    • Tom Metzger  On February 24, 2014 at 6:26 am


      • weeklysift  On February 24, 2014 at 9:23 am

        Care to elaborate?

      • Tom Metzger  On February 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        No need it says it all.

      • weeklysift  On February 26, 2014 at 7:23 am

        Fair enough. I’ll just add that my identification is more with Western culture than with European genetics. If I went to the far future in a time machine and found people of some mixed race who were performing Shakespeare and arguing about Plato, I’d feel like these were my people and the important things had been preserved.

  • tracey  On February 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Very insightful and should be the catalyst for some serious conversations about race in America. But it probably wont.

  • sonny scroggins  On February 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Do White Folks Fear Violence When Black Folks Are Just Being Blunt?

    I Challenge my Generation to Inspire Future Generations.

    Yours in Christ, Sonny Scroggins

  • amazingafrogirl  On February 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Reblogged this on onracism.

    • Tom Metzger  On February 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      As an actual race separatist I am amused at the round about way the right conservatives vent their poorly covered racism against Obama. I agree that nothing he does could make them happy. An honest Race separatist doesn’t fall into that trap but simply speaks his or mind on any subject.Bush was twice as bad as Obama and they still love him.

  • LS  On February 24, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I read Doug’s post. I read all the comments. I thought about the analogy of the lawer who makes money for the firm and the one who doesn’t. Then I read Doug’s post agian.

    The main counter-argument seems to be that people are simply angry because Obama’s been such an abysmal president. I’m finding that position unconvicing. Many people also thought that Jimmy Carter was a loser as a president, but they didn’t freak out about what his wife wore. There’s something going on beyond being an abysmal president. Maybe you don’t want to label it racism, but it’s not just about his job performance either.

  • Mark  On February 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Narcissism is defined as having exaggerated feelings of self-importance. Or, how “I learned to stop glad-handing with my friends and start a blog”.

    Your post is a perfect example of this. Your original premise is that the backlash against Obama is, and can only be explained by, racism by the right. So solid is your belief in this that you will find articles in the right leaning media that support your thesis, but fail to read them to find out that they don’t. Such is the mark of a narcissist. So confident in his feelings of superiority that alternative viewpoints don’t even register with them because, how could they, they’re not what he thinks, thus they are wrong.

    Issues of race fascinate me. Mainly because they’re ubiquitous in our culture but people don’t actually think about them. Sure, you call the behavior on the video about the bike “racist”, but that’s because you’ve been trained to see it that way. When I ask you “Why is bigotry bad”, you’ll give the standard answers you’ve heard, but never thought about. Hack.

    Here’s a novel idea: People don’t actually hate Obama, they hate Obama supporters. When you set someone up as a celebrity you get the celebrity treatment, haters. When Entertainment weekly treats Obama as a celebrity and 50% of the country tells the other 50% of the country to “eat it” because they won and their ideas are the only way to go…well…see above, Narcissist.

    The issue with race in this country has nothing to do with color, and everything to do with perception, but not in the way you think. The video of the white guy and black guy “stealing” the bike isn’t actually racist, it’s pragmatic. You’re a mathematician, look at it. The probability of the white guys stealing the bike is what, and the probability of the black guy stealing the bike is what? Exactly. People didn’t stop the white guy because the cost of getting involved when they ran the numbers was somewhere around “I don’t care”. The black guy, however, was around the “oh hell no”.

    But it’s just not raw data people have been taught to consider but conditioned to pretend like they don’t. It’s also history. If you walk down the street and someone you don’t know bumps you, you’re going to curse him under your breath. But if that someone is someone you’ve given tons of money to, you’re going to expect a certain amount of respect from them. Same here. What if you were to look at it this way: The people say the white kid stealing the bike but didn’t care because, but when the black kid was stealing the bike, images of tons of money being spent to give this race advantages in society flashed in their mind. It’s not that they were angry he was stealing the bike, they were angry that they gave him a chance (and money) and he said “eff you” anyway.

    Sure, you’re condition to claim “white privilege” right now but that’s a meaningless claim when more white people are arrested than blacks (and I really hope you go for the “per population” thing here).

    At the end of the day what really matters is that this doesn’t matter. Americans are apathetic to a fault. And, here’s the key, if the black community would stop reinforcing stereotypes, American’s inherent laziness would take over and eliminate the thoughts you find objectionable. But they don’t. They continue to act in ways that will perpetuation their “malignment” in society. The problem is not us, or the “system”, it’s them…just like the problem with your shallow posts on race isn’t the data…it’s you

    • tbone64  On February 26, 2014 at 5:13 am

      I don’t know where the hell you get that BS from. Racism is alive and well and the hatred that white people have against people of color, gays, women run deep. Walk in a black man’s shoes for awhile and tell me it dose not exist. It did become more prevalent once a black man moved into 1600 Penn Ave. He’s not suppose to write an executive order because of the color of his skin. Check past Presidents executive orders). His nominations are blocked at every turn. If he says he likes something, the Republicans say they don’t like it. He can’t go on vacation when the whole house and senate is on vacation. If he discusses race, then he’s playing the race card. Now according to you, black people are suppose to be lazy. More racist BS from you. Oh yeah racism dose exist and is alive and well.

    • weeklysift  On February 26, 2014 at 7:09 am

      For the confused, I linked to the stealing-a-bike video in a subsequent post. It’s here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ge7i60GuNRg

      The “celebrity” meme was something the McCain campaign made up to try to make a virtue out of the fact that their guy couldn’t draw the kinds of crowds Obama could. If McCain had been drawing the big crowds, it would have been fabulous.

      Mark is providing more evidence for my thesis: When we elect white presidents, especially in the kind of landslide Obama got in 2008, we take for granted that they’re going to try to implement the agenda they were elected on. But who does this black guy think he is, to start working on his agenda just because he won a landslide?

      As for observations about my narcissism and my conditioning, readers can look at the blog as a whole and judge for themselves.

      • Mark  On February 26, 2014 at 9:50 pm

        Actually, the “celebrity” meme wasn’t coined my McCain, but debated by psychologists given the over the top coverage by the left media.

        But that’s not what’s important. Allow me to ask a question that neither you, nor your readers are in a position to consider: Why is bigotry bad?

        This is where your narcissism factors in. You won’t even consider that questions because you’re so wrapped up in the correctness of your position that you can’t comprehend data that could possibly upset your concept of “self”, your “schema”. So here’s what you’ll do, you’ll go through a script. You’ll recite the packaged responses without ever actually considering the question. But let’s not do that, so I must be specific.

        I’ve done thinking about this because it fascinates me. There are actually two types of bigotry. Systemic and Endemic. I will agree with you immediately that Systemic bigotry is terrible. These are things like Jim Crow, Apartheid, Sundown laws, etc… This tears at the fabric of a society and contributes to a government that is oppressive.

        However, let me introduce you to Kuzma’s mother here. Systemic bigotry no longer exists. And this is where your readers short circuit. Show me a law that prevents intermarriage, show me a jim crow law, show me deed covenants. You can’t, because they don’t exist. Now, we can make an argument that Systemic bigotry exists in the existence of Affirmative Action, that it exists against Whites….but I think that might be a little to much for your, and your reader’s ego to handle in order to protect the Id and to stay in line with what they’ve been trained to think.

        Endemic bigotry is different. This is the type of bigotry that is prevalent (yes, I’ll acknowledge that) in our society now. This is what is shown in the bike video. This is the type of bigotry that has a white person cross a street when they see a group of black kids.

        But the question I propose is: Is it bad?

        The video in question is interesting…but not for what it shows. A comparison between a white kid and a black kid only serves to validate liberal assumptions. Find me a similar video between an Asian kid, or an Indian kid and a black kid, and you’d get he same result. Then the question is, is THAT bigoted?

        That’s the problem here. All this talk about “white privilege” or whatever is actually better translated as “not AMERICAN black privilege”. Which brings up the main point: Why is that the main question?

        If a white guy gets polarbeared in DC, and a week later he crosses the street, is he a bigot? This is also the reason why you’ll be caught at 10pm on a Friday in Boston’s Chinatown and not in DC’s Anacostia.

        So the question still stands. And this would actually be a good column, why is Endemic (eg. personal thoughts), a bad thing? This is also why Liberals like Tim Wise have to start earning their paycheck. Because in order to answer to that question you have to answer yes to the concept that YOUR idea of the way people think is more important than THEIR idea of racial co-existence.

        So, Doctor, are you able to make that proclamation? Say, right here that the DOJ stats be damned, that million’s of people’s PERSONAL experience is not worth anything compared with your agenda? And that sir, is the definition of narcissism, that you think you know best for OTHER people.

        Endemic bigotry is here to stay because the alternative is much worse. In order to eliminate endemic bigotry you have to, by definition, “reeducate” the American people to step in line with YOUR concept of reality, of what is “right”.

        I’d rather take my chances that some kid has the cop called on them, because the DOJ stats tell me that he is more likely to be stealing the bike. The alternative is a state where concept of “reeducating” people to step in line is the norm.

        And THAT is why you can’t write a column about it, because your ultimate position would be to advocate thought policing the people of this country.

      • weeklysift  On February 27, 2014 at 3:43 pm

        Mark, I already wrote that article almost two years ago: “Prejudice, Bigotry, and ‘Reasonable’ Racism”. https://weeklysift.com/2012/04/02/prejudice-bigotry-and-reasonable-racism/

  • Tom Metzger  On February 26, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I support the Arizona bill that frees the ability to discriminate.In fact I support the elimination of all anti discrimination laws.The only difference between a slave and a free man is the natural right to discriminate.

    • weeklysift  On February 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      I’ll give you credit for consistency. I still haven’t heard a coherent explanation from the people who think the law should allow discrimination against gays, but not against blacks or women.

  • Ahmar Mustikhan  On February 28, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Racism is still alive and kicking, among right-wing Americans.

    • Tom Metzger  On February 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Racism is just as evident among the left through patronizing.

      *THE INSURGENT IS A THOUGHT PROCESS NOT A MEMBERSHIP GROUP. Membership organizations have become as obsolete as WW2 Aircraft carriers but they make excellent targets. I like stealth Submarines myself. cruising at periscope depth.It is effective both in surface and submerged action. Take your pick..* *I think Insurgent is the most accurate term as I do Lone Wolf or independent contractor.’Sign up for our Radical Racial Radio program 6 one hour shows a week to you by MP3 file. $20 donation per month to PO BOX WARSAW,In. 46581 or pay Pal tm_metzger@yahoo.com . Also visit RESIST.COM *

      • weeklysift  On March 2, 2014 at 7:03 am

        I’ll let this one go because it’s topical, but for future reference I disapprove of marketing in the comments. I have to delete so many purely commercial spam comments that I don’t want to have to deal with borderline cases.

  • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 2, 2014 at 4:13 am

    I got about as far as the New York Post article and stopped because the article you are referencing has nothing to do with Marines holding umbrellas being a scandal. It’s about terrorists that should be on no fly lists boarding airplanes. All you had to do was fin and read the article, which I did in a minute, or at least read what was on the cover of the newspaper that you posted, but apparently that took too long and since it might not coincide with your already made up position, you didn’t read it.

    The vast majority don’t care that Obama is half-black, they care that he is incompetent (and some merely because he’s a Democrat) and that’s why they dislike him. Maybe you should do some basic research next time before misleading people who read your articles, if you care about the truth and fairness at all.

    • weeklysift  On March 2, 2014 at 6:59 am

      If you click on the image of the Post cover — which really was a reference to the conservative freak-out that became known as UmbrellaGate; everyone who saw that cover on the day it was published knew that — you’ll find the Washington Post article “Even Obama’s umbrellas are a scandal now”. It references numerous conservatives trying to make a big deal out of President Obama violating “the Marine umbrella protocol”. The account I gave of the incident is accurate.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

        You stated the umbrella story was front page news, it wasn’t since that wasn’t the news. The picture was only used so they could use the headline they did. You’re just wrong and you can’t seem to admit it in the name of keeping racism alive and well when in reality people care about competence (and some party fools on both sides only care only about parties).

      • weeklysift  On March 2, 2014 at 1:13 pm

        Let me give the response I should have started with: Thank you for the correction. The Post front-paged the photo that was the center of the UmbrellaGate flap, but the associated story wasn’t about that.

        With that acknowledged, I don’t see how that correction invalidates my larger point: UmbrellaGate happened, and was widely covered, as you can discover by googling “umbrellagate”. It was precisely the kind of fake scandal this article is about, and fits in with the series of other fake scandals I mention.

        The fake scandals keep happening on a regular basis, and have nothing to do with policy or Obama’s competence.

        I am struck by the number of commenters who are unwilling to admit that any criticisms of Obama are race-based, and who circle their wagons around all Obama critics, included racially motivated ones.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 2, 2014 at 3:43 pm

        The correction invalidates your assertion that the front page of the Post was covering a story about Marines and umbrellas. The story was covered by other Conservative Media sources, yes, but I wouldn’t say widely covered. I mean I had never heard of it before until it was mentioned in this article. Even though Conservative sources ran the story it doesn’t mean there is a correlation with Obama’s race. It’s much more likely that it’s because he’s a Democrat. Why don’t you consider that obvious possibility?

        The Media Right attack the Democrats and the Media Left attack the Republicans, it’s quite easy to see, it’s always happened. The Media often attacks the opposition for something while ignoring it if someone who shares their politics does the exact same thing. For example, Obama is practically Bush on steroids policy wise. It’s completely idiotic for someone to say I hate George Bush and like Barack Obama. They are way too similar policy wise to have that big of gap, but I can find a lot of people who would say this. The only explanation is there are lots of ill-informed party fools out there who will support Democrats and hate Republicans regardless of what the party’s politicians do in reality, and vise versa. The real issue is the partisan media outlets and the party fools, not Obama’s race. A very tiny portion of the Obama detractors are motivated by race, and it’s so insignificant that it’snot even worth mentioning, but you mention it. There is a miniscule percentage of people who dislike Obama and attack him just because of his race. It’s not the real motivation in attacking Obama, his party, politics, real “scandals” (IRS, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, ObamaCare, Solyndra, etc.) and his incompetence are the motivation.

        The Media Right, and people on the right, admire Herman Cain, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Dr. Ben Carson, Allen West, Clarence Thomas, etc. etc.. Race doesn’t play a part there because it’s inconsequential, competence and/or politics are what’s important to the people who admire these black Republicans. How can you ignore this huge inconsistency with your beliefs that Obama is attacked because of his race, but Conservative blacks are not attacked by the right at all despite being black?

        The only people who are constantly concerned with race are people on the left and you’re the ones keeping it alive by fooling people into thinking it’s a prevelant problem. The party fools are the problem. The partisan media outlets are the problem. Obama’s deceitfulness and incompetence is the problem.

      • weeklysift  On March 3, 2014 at 6:34 am

        You’re missing the notion of strategic racism that I borrow from “Dog Whistle Politics”. The attacks on Obama may be motivated by politics, but are designed to appeal to the implicit racism that is widespread among whites. Hence the suggestion that he is uppity, unmannered, poorly raised, and that his assertion of ordinary presidential prerogatives is somehow outrageous. None of that has anything to do with his policies, but it’s a way of raising white anger against him.

        Those objections could be manufactured against conservative blacks, but there is no strategic reason to do it, because they are representing the interests of the white majority.

      • weeklysift  On March 3, 2014 at 7:06 am

        Devin, I should have mentioned that I agree with the Bush/Obama similarity when we’re talking about presidential power, internal spying, and the legal immunity of the Wall Street bankers. Goldman Sachs is a hidden power behind both administrations.

        But Bush was a class warrior fighting for the upper class, and Obama is much more of a moderate on those issues. Also, Obama has managed to wind down Bush’s wars and (so far) not start major new ones. And Obama is at least starting to do something to help people without health insurance, which Bush couldn’t have cared less about.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        I just don’t see this widespread racism you are talking about. The vast majority of white people aren’t racist, explicitly or implicitly. The issue is so minor, yet Liberals constantly bring it up as if it is prevalent and what it does is cause blacks to be racist against whites. It’s really just an excuse to use instead of arguing issues on their merits. When the older generation dies out racism will really be a minuscule issue, but I bet Liberals will still bring it up like it’s still as bad as it was in the 1920s when there were millions of KKK members roaming around. You need it to be an issue even though it really isn’t.

        Again the media on the right will attack the left and the media on the left will attack the right. It’s always been this way, but somehow now it’s racist. Bush Jr. was made out to be uncouth, idiotic, and unpresidential by the media on the left and Obama has been made out to be the same way by the media on the right. Bush and Obama have made it pretty easy on them, but the Media will attack every little thing and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with politics, but that doesn’t mean it’s somehow racist when they attack Obama. Also, take into consideration that there are simply many many more Media Outlets these days than in the past, so there simply are more stories. … Since the majority of people in America are whites, the majority of people who are going to be angry with Obama are whites. Again the anger mostly has to do with Obama’s incompetence, politics, party, or even his unpresidential manner and even if someone in their own party does the same exact thing they will ignore it because they are party fools, not because they are racists.

        So since Conservative blacks are representing the interests of the white majority, as you say, then it isn’t about race and it is about politics. Well I’m glad we’ve got that settled.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

        Bush and Obama are even more similar in that they expanded the size and power of the Federal Government, increased spending and the debt, have many of the same foreign policies, have increased Federal Government Control over the health care industry, have increased regulation greatly, both implemented Stimuli, both support the Patriot Act, both have favored the use of Czars, both loved using drones to bomb, both let lobbyists and crony capitalism control them, etc. etc.. Hope and Change, not really. Obama is just Bush on steroids, but he’s a black Democrat so he’s cool.

        Bush was a class warrior fighting for the upper class? So the Bush Tax Cuts for the middle class and poor, on top of the tax credits for the poor, plus Medicare Part D was to help the upper class? I beg to differ. The Bush Tax Cuts reduced unemployment and helped the economy and the ones who were unemployed weren’t the upper class, so it seems he’s a class warrior fighter, fighting for all classes, and not just fighting against the rich like the left does. By the way, the middle class and poor are suffering quite well under Democratic rule and policies and I’m not shocked by that. Income inequality is very bad, cost of living is much higher, unemployment and underemployment are at very high levels (especially among blacks), workforce participation is very low, etc. etc. Liberal economic policies do not work well. … You only think Obama is a moderate because you think being Liberal is moderate, but it isn’t. Obama is a Liberal and the majority of his policies are left of center. He’s for Universal Health Care, increased tax rates, Government spending, increased regulation, amnesty for illegals, etc. etc.. That’s pretty Liberal and just because he can’t get that all at once doesn’t mean he’s not chipping away at obtaining his ideological goals. … Obama has only ended the wars to gain political points. Setting arbitrary dates to end a war is not exactly a smart move, but it appeals to his base and he gets to say he kept his promise to get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Which is great for him, but in Iraq insurgents are taking over cities because he left no troop presence behind and pulled out at the wrong time.

        Bush couldn’t care less about those without health insurance? Why did he help people with Medicare Part D? Why did he cut income tax rates so more people could be employed and thus have insurance? You just don’t get it. The right tries to help everyone in their own way and the left in their own way. It’s easy to see the help the left gives since it’s direct, they hand out welfare. The right tries to fix the economy and make people individually responsible so they actually get out of the cycle of poverty. Liberal economic policies keep people in the cycle of welfare (and they then get their vote). … As for ObamaCare, that’s caused more people who had insurance to lose their insurance than for people who didn’t have insurance to get some. I think he cares more about increasing the size and power of the Federal Government than he does about those who don’t have insurance since ObamaCare is hurting more than it is helping and he refuses to start over. It’s just a stepping stone to Universal Health Insurance. Obama did something, but the something was worse than before, so I’d say that’s the opposite of caring for the people.

      • weeklysift  On March 3, 2014 at 4:56 pm

        If there’s one thing to be learned from the Bush administration, it’s that cutting rich people’s taxes is a really crappy way to create jobs. Despite massive tax cuts that overwhelmingly went to the very rich — see http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/bush-tax-cuts/ignore.cfm — unemployment went from 4.2% when he took office to 7.8% (and rising fast) when he left. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

        Bush cut taxes on the rich so that rich would have more money. It never trickled down and there was no reason to think it would.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 3, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        Well if you are going to analyze things completely wrong you might come to your conclusion. Mark Twain used to say there are lies, damned lies, and statistics and you seem to be who is talking about.

        In reality the Bush Tax Cuts for the poor and middle class, which is what I’m going to call them since you call them Tax Cuts for the rich (they were cut at all income levels and at a higher percentage for the lower brackets), reduced unemployment and increased Federal Government revenue. Here’s how to properly and fairly analyze them. In 2001 we had a recession due to the 9/11 attacks, that hurt the economy and brought it to a crawl and unemployment increased. It increased all the way to 6.3% in 2003, which was the year the Bush Tax Cuts went into full effect. Once that happened, unemployment started to decrease and revenue started to increase which it did at a record pace to record levels until 2007 (unemployment dropped to low of 4.4% in 2007 too). Next came the financial crisis and housing crisis, that had nothing to do with the Tax Cuts, and that severe recession destroyed the economy and thus reduced employment and revenue. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to figure that out if you had any interest in fairness and not just beholden to an ideology or perhaps you did know and are just dishonest. Not taking into account possibly the worst recession ever is pretty ridiculous on your part. …. Apparently it did trickle down, not that the Bush Tax Cuts was Trickle Down Economics though since it has never been implemented on its own.

        Maybe I should be the one with the website and you should be in the comments section. If your ideology didn’t blind you to reality, than maybe you’d grasp reality, until you try to analyze things properly and fairly, rock on my ideological fool!

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 3, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        Permanent Income Tax Cuts have always worked very well including the Coolidge, JFK, Reagan, and Bush Tax Cuts. Unemployment decreased and Government revenue increased. If Liberals and Obama understood this, they could have healed the economy by now instead of throwing $1.2 trillion at it (after interest) and increasing costs with ObamaCare. The tax history there for those who wish to accept and understand it.

      • weeklysift  On March 4, 2014 at 5:50 am

        I understand. When the cyclical nature of the economy works in your favor, it’s because of your policies. When it works against you, it’s not your fault.

      • Devin (@Mister_Rational)  On March 5, 2014 at 12:31 am

        No you don’t get it at all. I’m an independent who understands the reality of Liberal Fiscal Policies and Conservative Fiscal Policies which is why advocate for Fiscal Conservatism with a dash of Fiscal Liberalism in order to keep Capitalism in check. The recent severe recession was caused by financial deregulation (mostly done by Republicans) and the Housing Crisis was caused mainly by the CRA (passed by Democrats). I can blame whatever policy that deserves blame regardless of the Party who supported it, I doubt you could. You have an ideology and you are sticking to it despite reality.

        Income Tax Cuts have worked to jump start the economy on the only four occasions they have been implemented. Unemployment has decreased and Government revenue has increased every time leading to a healthier economy. This is the perfect time for income tax cuts because when the economy is poor tax cuts can jump start it and bring you back down to a normal employment level. If you can’t understand why this happens than you haven’t sufficiently thought about them. You’ve just found statistics that support your pre-determined point of view. If you would like me to explain to you why tax cuts do what they do, I will gladly in the name of possibly making you a fair-minded “mathematician” who properly understands how the economy works.

      • weeklysift  On March 6, 2014 at 7:33 am

        I explored that issue in detail four years ago in “Where Jobs Come From” https://weeklysift.com/2010/10/25/appropriation/#10252010first

  • Tom Metzger  On March 2, 2014 at 8:33 am

    As long as you accept the myth of EQUALITY and its evil twin sister RIGHT’S all problems avoid solutions.

  • Tom Metzger  On March 2, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I apologize for allowing the ad to slip through into comments. It was not intended.

  • JMYII  On March 2, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Did I miss the point, or did anyone else think that The Economst’s interview with Chwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) was an example of this same thing. Damned with faint praise, and all that. http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21594959-making-virtue-restraint-power-quiet

  • JR.  On March 3, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Good article but Emmett Till wasn’t lynched. He was murdered but technically it wasn’t a lynching as he was not hung and it wasn’t a mob.

    • weeklysift  On March 3, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Dictionary.com agrees with you. I had thought of lynching as an extra-judicial execution, but a mob and hanging seem to be key elements.

  • Will Shetterly  On March 10, 2014 at 12:00 am

    It’s not racist. It’s just partisan.

  • Aguillar  On March 10, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Or maybe it’s just that he acts like a thin-skinned arrogant jerk most of the time. Maybe that’s all it is and his admirers on the left who adore that snotty Ivy League professorial condescension just don’t realize how unbelievably off-putting and distasteful it is to everyone else.

    • LS  On March 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      And acting like a thin-skinned arrogant jerk causes people to freak out about what his wife wears?

  • Will  On March 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    “I’m asking that question seriously, not rhetorically. I sympathize with people who want to reserve racism for Adolf Hitler ordering the Final Solution to the Jewish problem or George Wallace standing in the door to block black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama. The men who lynched Emmett Till or the grand jury that refused to indict them — those people were racists. I get that it doesn’t seem right to put them in the same category with the people who only just realized in 2009 that life in the White House is pretty sweet.”

    I get where your confusion is coming from, and I’m going to very simply and directly clear it up for you right now: The premise of this paragraph, which seems to be the premise of your entire argument and the premise behind the entire question asked by this article, is COMPLETELY WRONG. The people who hold President Obama to a harsher standard simply because of the color of his skin are racists every bit as much as the people who committed the horrific examples you cited. A racist is a racist is a racist, and letting these people pretend they =aren’t= racists is why behavior like this is so prevalent.

  • Tom Metzger  On June 6, 2014 at 9:11 am

    BEBE of Israel traded over 1000 Palestinians for one soldier​

  • cultivatethemind  On June 17, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Cultivate The Mind and commented:
    I hope that every white person reads this so they can understand that racism is not narrowly defined and that one can be guilty of it without being consciously aware of it. Please read and share!

  • Admin  On February 20, 2017 at 10:52 am

    What you describe is racism. Full stop. Racism in our country is about white supremacy. And the unconscious implicit bias that led to these beliefs and statements are clearly and without doubt elements of white supremacy and racism.

    Almost everyone, regardless of hue, is complicit within the system of white supremacy created to support the slave trade in the Americas and its subsequent forms of racism, thereafter.

    As a black woman, I bemoaned how jeans don’t fit “our big thighs” to my son … and he responded, “there is nothing wrong with my thighs”! And he’s correct. As markets have matured, manufacturers looking to maximize profits have begun making clothes that fit a variety of body types … it was the clothes that weren’t “right” … our bodies vary, but they are all “right.”

    My life has significantly been shaped by conforming to the larger society and not seeing myself as equally deserving as a consumer until recently. Thank goodness I and our entire community, all of us, have contributed enough such that my son sees the world differently.

    Gratefully, we have advanced to the place where there is racism everywhere with racists being a distinct minority. Racists are fully aware and actively embrace, revel, act out and proselytize their beliefs in white supremacy. We’re increasingly a nation of racism without racists … and that’s a good place to start anew with a Second Reconstruction.

    A *simple framework* of learning to recognize racism and to be gentle with ourselves when we find ourselves and each other acting out our racism is an essential part of the process of ending racism and healing ourselves and our nation.

    It would be great if we could consciously create the space and tools to pursue the work of recognizing racism wherever it exists … and at the same time, avoid confusing people who reveal their racism with racists.

    And let’s not fool ourselves, it’s not just Skinheads claiming that this is a nation of “European immigrants” — or that making America great again also means returning to a time where white privilege was the unquestioned norm … because whites “created” this nation and are more deserving. There are more than a few of us who hold these views.

    But we’ve proven to ourselves and the world that the majority of us do not abide by these beliefs and want to build on the progress that we’ve made thus far. We want to address the more vicious and pernicious forms of institutional racism that exist … and we want to become conscious of our own implicit biases and address them one by one until they are gone. G-d help us.

    This *simple framework* has two pillars …

    (1) NOT denying that it is racism supports a sense of urgency around ending racism.

    Nobody wants to be guilty of racism. But here’s new news, it not only harms people of color, but white people as well.

    Racism and sexism played significant roles in our recent elections … they are the red threads binding disparate groups among us. #Isms are the levers that let opportunists manipulate us: outright by white supremacists and through xenophobia among evangelicals and others. We are more secure in our more perfect union whenever we free ourselves of #Isms.

    (2) Owning our racism with love and compassion will help us to create a “call to courage and action” in order to face and root out the beam in our own eyes. Developing the “muscle” to see and face racism lionizes us and makes us s/heroes for ourselves, our children and our nation.

    By the way, my response to my son — “Ooops! My racism is showing.Thanks for helping me to see that.”

  • Admin  On February 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

    P.S. Thank you for answering your call to courage and action by providing this post.


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