News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Saturday, April 05, 2003
The most racist of blogs
Whether to write about racism in the blogosphere is a dilemma. If I do, I give bigots the attention they desperately desire. If I don't, other bloggers and blog readers, busy with their own lives, may not become aware of the nefarious purposes of some of our neighbors in Bloggersville. Despite some misgivings, I've decided to discuss possibly the most racist of blogs, Gene Expression.
Let's focus on an all too typical post from the site.
The entry's comments section consists of similar unthinking bigotry, mainly claims about African-Americans being 'naturally' athletic. (And, of course, 'naturally' stupid.) The article being mangled by the Gene Expressors can be read here.
The thinking is a dictionary definition of racism:
Consider the opening gambit: "What's interesting is that he shows traits that usually ascribed to black males," followed by completely unsubstantiated claims that black men are inherently athletic and, apparently, inarticulate. That is a constant theme among racists, both the traditional variety and 'scientific' racists, or as they now prefer to call themselves, 'racial realists.' (Yes, I know 'racist fantasizers' would make more sense.)
The other theme of the entry, that business acumen and financial success are non-black 'traits' is equally bigoted. Individuals have traits, not groups. On a comparatively minor note, I was surprized to see Alpha Male refer to Chin as "Mr." That is pretty unheard of at a blog where topics such as "black = ugly," hopes that AIDs will wipe out most or all the population of Africa and the enshrining of disgraced academics such as blatant racist J. Phillip Rushton as heroes is the norm. I doubt Razib, the ill-informed, African-American hating windbag lead poster, would have used the courtesy title.
On my occassional forays into Gene Expression as part of my hate group monitoring, I am always bewildered by the sheer lack of factualness in the things Razib and his cohort say. For example, anyone can search the web and learn that the health of African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans is worse than that of whites, probably as a result of poverty and discrimination. Yet, again and again, they portray blacks, particularly, as physical super men and women. It never seems to cross their minds that athletes are a poor measure of the health of people in general.
If you have ever encountered the Gene Expressors (they usually invade other blogs as a group), you are probably wondering about Razib. He escaped the poverty and violence of Bangladesh as a child. His problems with race and gender seem to date from that time. (A blogger from India has written an entry I think really nails Razib. I may post it.) He seems equally obsessed with blacks (as subhumans) and whites (as a superior group he wishes he were a part of). When I noticed he had recently posted a photo of himself, but as a baby, to Gene Expression, I immediately guessed why: People of color tend to darken with age. We are lightest as babies. I've heard Razib is quite dark-skinned and is often mistaken for an African-American as an adult.
In future entries, I will consider Gene Expression in context with its brother sites, VDare and American Renaissance. They share a liason, longterm 'scientific' racist and serial underachiever Steve Sailer, and probably, funding. I also want to say a few words about bloggers who pretend to be mainstream while participating in Gene Expression and other racist groups.posted by J. | 2:09 PM
Hopi woman among dead in Iraq
An hour ago, it was announced that her body was recovered with six others from a hospital in Nasiriyah.
I don't know why Piestewa became invisible. For most of the period involved, Pfc. Jessica Lynch and she were both MIA, but it was Lynch who attracted attention.
Lynch, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital Tuesday, had bunked with Piestewa. Friday, it was reported:
That was not to be, the young woman who had been overlooked amid the glare of publicity focused on her roommate, died still invisible.posted by J. | 2:15 AM
Thursday, April 03, 2003
It appears the injuries to Pfc. Jessica Lynch previously reported may have been greatly exaggerated. Accounts from her family do not match those published in the Washington Post. My blogfather, Atrios, has the dirt. I noticed the golly-whiz tone of the story, but did not even suspect the reporter might knowlingly misrepresent the facts.
This new twist makes the issue discussed in the following entry even more interesting. Did the reporter create her own Great White Heroine?posted by J. | 3:17 PM
Good for Pfc. Lynch, but. . .
I am glad Pfc. Jessica Lynch has been rescued and will be returned to the bosom of her family in West Virginia within weeks. Lynch is being hailed as a heroine who fought back when her company encountered Iraqi irregulars March 23. She was wounded several times by gunshot and knives and emptied her own weapon in return. A good ending to an exciting story, right?
I'm ambivalent. I feel for Lynch as a human being, but know the sympathy extended to her would not be extended to me. The situation reminds me, and I suspect, many other minority Americans, of the double standard applied to people according to race. Some of the news stories have emphasized her whiteness as if it explained her worth.
Others have not been as explicit, but the fact that she is white and female seems to explain part of the fascination with her. Meanwhile, Lynch's African-American comrade in the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, Specialist Shoshana Johnson, has virtually disappeared from the news. In another week, she will probably be as forgotten as Osama bin Laden is with the focus on Saddam Hussein. It is doubtful that her hometown would respond to her release as Lynch's has.
And, the disparate treatment in the media does not stop there. Based on the women profiled in stories about the 15 percent of us in the U.S, military one would not never guess black women are overrepresented in the demographic. They are almost always white.
Ironically, more attention has been paid to Lynch than to male and minority soldiers who were killed in Iraq, some in a failed attempt to rescue her. Observing the dichotomy in empathy must be particularly difficult for the high percentage of the military that is African-American or Hispanic.
Their fate, if captured, would likely be closer to that of Johnson than that of Lynch. And, salt is being rubbed into the wound. Many conservatives are dismissing black soldiers, particularly, as not important to the military or the war effort because they serve mainly in support units. Most soldiers captured or killed may not be combat troops. Still, dark-skinned soldiers are to be slighted, as they have been in other wars.
The message is not lost on many African-Americans, "While about 75 percent of white Americans support the war, according to a recent survey, 61 percent of blacks are against [it]." There are very rational reasons for their opposition.
Nor is the family of invasion of Iraq casualty Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall D. Waters-Bey clueless. "The dead man's sister, Michelle, said: "It's all for nothing, that war could have been prevented. Now, we're out of a brother. Bush is not out of a brother. We are."
Waters-Bey, 29, a crew chief aboard a U.S. Marine helicopter, also left a 10-year-old son and an embittered father behind.
Something that struck me during this week is that as minority soldiers disproportionately serve in Iraq and the military in general, another mode of upward mobility for people of color may be abolished by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
The decision by SCOTUS is expected in July. If the fighting in Iraq is still going on or the occupation of the country has begun, abolishing affirmative active will send a dual message: People of color are good enough to disproportionately do America's grunt work, sometimes being killed in the process, but not to attend its universities in significant numbers.posted by J. | 1:28 PM
Tuesday, April 01, 2003
A Mom at war
The woman who has emerged as the symbol of the female soldier at war is Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson, of El Paso, Texas. Spec. Johnson was captured by Iraqi forces March 23 and is being held prisoner. She is the mother of a two-year-old daughter. As blogger Roger Ailes points out, conservative commentators are using the young woman's tragic situation to make their own points, sometimes in ways that demean her.
Washington Times editor Wes Pruden is a particularly telling example of the tendency because he has no use for Spec. Johnson beyond cynical exploitation of her gender and job. Pruden is a neo-Confederate, allied with organizations that believe slavery was justified and that African-Americans should not be denied full rights of citizenship. If he were not busy exploiting her, Pruden would be dismissing Spec. Johnson as a member of a genetically inferior race. In his column, Pruden says:
Like many a bigot, Pruden's contempt for equality applies to gender as well as race. Furthermore, he trivializes the nature of feminism by claiming feminsts want to see young women's corpses in body bags. Don't be mislead by his use of complimentary adjectives. If Pruden had his way, Spec. Johnson and the late Private Lynch would never have had opportunities they took for granted, such as voting and receiving equal pay for equal work.
Other critics of allowing women in the military to serve in positions that may place them in harm's way are less hypocritical, but equally strident.
Donnelly explains her reasoning more fully at the National Review Online. She believes the natures of the genders to be so different there can never be equality when it comes to participation in the military and war.
Anti-feminist blogger Sara of Diotima perceives the issue as protecting society from an unacceptable psychological burden moreso than protecting female soldiers from the risks inherent in being captured. Critiquing Matthew Yglesias' point that any soldier can be raped or otherwise degraded, she says:
Some other voices are only semi-critical, fully supporting women in the military, but believing exceptions should be made in regard to proximity to combat for single mothers. A liberal commentator asks:
Though those questions are more palatable than the viewpoints expressed by the conservatives, I believe there are strong equal protection issues in treating groups differently, even in the military. If single mothers are given liberal leave and excluded from combat, it is hard to justify not doing the same for single men who are parents. If single parents are treated differently, can we really justify subjecting married parents to the risks at issue? After all, they are parents, the criterion being focused on, too.
I don't know if Spec. Johnson's predicament will be a watershed for the issue of women, especially mothers, at war, or not. Perhaps the issue will disappear among the clamor about other concerns by the time the war ends. If not, those of us who believe allowing women more opportunites in the military is not just defensible, but a good idea, will have to defend our position in the aftermath of capture, injury and death of female troops.
Note: This entry was previously published at Sisyphus Shrugged.posted by J. | 8:42 PM