The Tea Party Movement and the "Race Card"

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, May 12, 2010.

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  1. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Jozy_Oguchi,

    To make this simple and prevent a quotefest, I will summarize this way: your complaints are based on assuming facts not in evidence. When I pointed out that the connection between the insult "McCain's boy" and Anthony Miller's race wasn't actually supported by anything more than assumption, you took offense that I pointed out that there isn't actually any evidence presented of racial intent.

    As for the rest, you are basically saying that the fact that you believe it was racist is enough to prove that it was racist. That is once again, circular reasoning. Last I checked, your beliefs don't change the reality of what the speaker originally intended by his remark.

    What it really boils down to is that an individual insulted a black man with the phrase "McCain's boy". Those are all the facts that we have. We don't have the context of the remark, as it was described by Miller to the reporter and only paraphrased secondhand to us in the article. We don't even know the speaker's race, as it is never mentioned and the speaker is never identified. We have no evidence whatsoever to draw any conclusions about the speaker in this case.

    The logical response to a lack of information is to simply say that you don't know. Anything beyond that is your own assumptions and jumping to conclusions. It is usually considered unwise and inappropriate to attack someone on the basis of assumption alone.

    A good example of this sort of issue came along about 10 years ago. David Howard, who was an aide to DC mayor Anthony Williams, used the word "niggardly" to describe a part of the DC budget. Two city employees accused Howard of making a racist remark, and he wound up being forced to resign over the issue. The problem with that is that the work "niggardly" derives from an old Norse word for "miserly", and bears no relation (other than phonetically) to the racial slur that derives from the Latin word for "black". (He was later rehired to work in another part of the administration.) Howard was accused not because of any proof of racist intent on his part, but because the people who heard him merely assumed that he had a racist intent, and treated that assumption as fact.

    I am simply warning against the same sort of behavior.

    Kimball Kinnison
  2. Jozy_Oguchi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2010
    star 3
    1) My argument is less of an emphasis that I in particular find the statement to be racist and more that, given certain facts of history and a couple facts about the case, such an interpretation would be "reasonable". There's nothing 'circular' about that.
    2) What this really boils down to is that the word "assumption" forms the basis for pretty much everything you say that resembles an argument, which is problematic for you at the point where you find it impossible to articulate why "assumptions" in this context are a) bad b) not inevitable. Which is problematic(especially the 'inevitable' part), because then it's actually not considered unwise to attack someone on the basis of assumption alone - it's considered unwise to attack people on the basis of stupid assumptions, which is a different thing entirely.
    3) You keep defaulting to "intent" as a standard - a standard that you have not been able to defend(hint: it's not defensible). It's also not a standard that could never implicate anyone of meaning anything when they speak - at least, not with this 'burden of proof' nonsense.
    4) The logical response to a lack of proof is to go to a reasonable thing to believe given what proof is available. Similarly, I can neither empirically confirm nor deny that every person from Atlanta likes T.I.'s album (it's 4/4 out of the people I know) but I think the position that "no, there probably are people from Atlanta that don't like that album" is a pretty defensible thing to believe. A lack of proof conditions the strength of the claims one can make; not whether or not they can reasonably make them.
    5) That case is not a particularly good example(see: the 'noted history of the word' that has been relevant from post 1 on this issue), but then I'm guessing you knew that going into it, so I'm somewhat embarrassed that I'm giving it the dignity of a response.
  3. JediSmuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 5, 1999
    star 5
    Actually, the board has no intentions of the sort. I could think of several reasons to have kids attend neighborhood schools as opposed to having them go across the county to a school: Saving money on gas, needing fewer busses, providing more time for the kids to do homework because they aren't riding a bus for an hour or more each way. Heck, if you have kids attend the closest school, a lot more can WALK there, and that means they get some exercise. And the money saved from not needing so many busses, or having to buy less gas, and not needing to maintain them as much due to normal wear and tear means you might be able to focus those resources elsewhere, like maybe hiring more teachers, or fixing the problems that lead to 46% of poor kids dropping out in the first place.

    God forbid that elected officials in charge of a budget actually try to be efficient with their budget and try to maximize the resources they spend on education as opposed to bussing kids across a county that is 857 square miles with a population of nearly 900,000! Oh, the horrors of actually having students attend the school in their neighborhood!!!

    So, now, deciding to save money by not forcing kids to take an hour-long bus ride each way to school is racist? Good grief, you are rendering that term worthless!
  4. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    The standard of intent is perfectly defensible.

    Take the example I gave of David Howard. He used the word "niggardly" in front of two employees who felt insulted because they thought that he was making a racist remark. However, his intent was to describe the difficulties he would have with the budget and how he would have to be tight with funds. The word he used was mistaken by the listeners for a racist comment, and yet he was attacked for it.

    Now, was it reasonable for those employees to attack him over his comment? They jumped to a conclusion that wasn't supported by the evidence, and essentially forced him to resign as a result. He was forced out of his job because someone else assumed that he had an intent that he didn't have.

    The racial offense was completely in the mind of the listeners, not on the part of the speaker. The listeners assumes an intent that didn't exist, because they didn't understand the context.

    You are making the same mistake that they made. You are jumping to conclusions based on a now third-hand report that you don't know the context of, and you don't know anything about the intent of the speaker. You are simply assuming that the comment was racist, just as much as Howard's accusers assumed that his use of "niggardly" was racist.

    Kimball Kinnison
  5. Jozy_Oguchi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2010
    star 3
    No.
  6. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Wow. That is such a compelling argument.

    Rather than address an example that directly refutes your claims, you choose to ignore it.

    The David Howard example perfectly illustrates how intent is critical in examining this sort of situation.

    Kimball Kinnison
  7. Jozy_Oguchi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2010
    star 3
    Rather than address the seventy arguments you ignored above, all of which refute the core assumptions of your argument, and one of which already explained the irrelevance of your example(hint: you yourself asked "was it reasonable?" that's the right question, the answer to which is "no" and more reason why that example is pointless) - you chose to ignore all of them to "avoid a quotefest" - which would be fine if you at least made a good faith effort to identify the core points I was making.

    Since you didn't, you know, I reserve the right to ignore your ramblings, especially when you're not even defending their relevance.

    EDIT: last sentence didn't say what I wanted it to
  8. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    A couple of problems here. First and foremost, while you pay lip service to the responsibility of the speaker, you don't actually give them any at all. In fact, in the very next sentence you say that it is the listener's duty to "try not to get offended" apparently regardless of the fact that the speaker may be intending to offer offense. I see no justification for a warped standard that demands deliberate misinterpretation on several occasions, when by far the more reasonable option would be the duty of the listener to try and understand what the speaker meant to communicate.

    You next say there is a lack of supporting evidence. Given that you have disqualified contextual cues like the race of the participants, the type of discussion being held, and the historical usage of the word, I'm not sure what could even qualify as "evidence" anymore. Would he have to say it while putting the noose around the throat of a black person he had illegally abducted and falsely accused of a raping a white woman? After all, let's think about this.

    When used offensively, it should have one of these three meanings. Both speakers were American, so it is unlikely in the extreme that the insult was meant to be about his national origin (in which case it would still fall under the general rubric of bigotry that we might call "racism"). Given that it emerged in a race to replace him for a position, it's not logical that they would be aiming to disparage the job that they manifestly covet. That only leaves the one meaning.

    We have several times drawn lines about where we think it would be irresponsible to claim racism. Our argument has based on the very specific way in which the prominence and recency of historical usage, the race of the speakers, and the situation combined to point logically towards a case for interpreting racial animus in his statement. Not that there necessarily was, mind you, but that a reasonable listener would not be off the mark for understanding one to exist. You, on the other hand, have repeated mechanically that listeners should just "not be offended" without any caveat or exception. It's patently stupid. What is your rationale for suggesting people should behave that way, and where is your evidence that anyone ever actually has or can?
  9. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    You haven't addressed my core point, which is that it is critical to understand the speaker's intent before attacking or condemning them. Assumptions are no replacement for facts. The David Howard incident demonstrates the sort of harn that they cause.

    You keep dismissing the "intent standard" as unreasonable. If we were to apply your standard, then there is nothing to protect people who are legitimately misunderstood. You would simply condemn them for whatever you thought they said or meant, rather than what they actually intended.

    Yes, you have to make assumptions in your daily life, but that doesn't mean that you should treat them as facts. You need to recognize when you are making such assumptions and the polite and reasonable thing to do is give people the benefit of the doubt when such assumptions are to their detriment.

    What specific facts about Anthony Miller's situation prove that "McCain's boy" was a racist remark? The only facts that have been presented so far is that he was called that, and that he is African American.

    In fact, if you look at other reports, you see that it was more likely just politics, not race, that spurred the remark. From that link:
    Miller, 43, had recently been re-elected for a second one-year term as Chairman of the Legislative District 20 Republicans. He was the first African-American to hold the position. According to the Republic, Miller worked for Sen. John McCain's re-election campaign last year, and came under pressure from conservatives who supported McCain's Tea Party-backed primary challenger, J.D. Hayworth. Miller said he'd been called "McCain's boy," and the Republic obtained emails circulated among party members calling him a "McCainiac with a penchant for violating the rules" and a "McCain hack." One detractor allegedly formed the shape of a gun with his hand and pointed it at Miller.
    Based on the other comments that give context to the remark, it would appear that the focus was not on Miller's race, but on his support for McCain (while his detractors supported McCain's primary opponent). All of that would suggest that "McCain's boy" wasn't used as a racial slur.

    So, again, what evidence do you have that it was, other than your assumptions from an incomplete and biased report?

    Kimball Kinnison
  10. Jozy_Oguchi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2010
    star 3
    Really?


    I haven't addressed this? Really?


  11. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I'm sorry, but are you trying to throw a temper tantrum, or actually make an argument?

    You jumped to a conclusion that was not supported by the evidence in the article. You assumed that because Miller was called "McCain's boy", it was a racial epithet. I argued from the get-go that such assumptions are unwarranted, and you called it dumb. You have, since then, repeatedly attempted to defend your unwarranted assumptions.

    Now, I've posted for you additional evidence that supports my interpretation (showing that the insult was more likely due to Miller's support for McCain than due to his race). In response to that, all you can do is complain that I don't respond to every point that you make?

    You haven't said anything to refute the evidence I have presented. When you do that, I'll respond to you more fully. Right now, the evidence shows that you jumped to conclusions by making unwarranted assumptions, just like David Howard's accusers did in 1999.

    Why don't you come back when you have some evidence to back up your claims? Until then, you are only showing your own racist attitudes by assuming racism in others.

    Kimball Kinnison
  12. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Your "additional evidence" was unhelpful. You assume that someone's motivations for making an insult are the same as the meaning of the insult itself. No one disputes that the conflict first arose over the Chairman's support for McCain. That's quite a separate issue from whether the use of the word "boy" constitutes a racial epithet. For example, Jerry Brown was criticized in the last election when one of his staffers called Meg Whitman a "whore." Obviously, the statement was motivated by the fact that the two campaigns were vying to win the governership of California. Would you therefore have us believe that the word whore was devoid of gender/sex implications? Really???
  13. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Go to your own definition provided at dictionary.com:
    Put in the context of the other comments "McCain hack" and "McCainiac", this definition fits better. It would be akin to calling him "McCain's lapdog".

    In this context, there is absolutely no reason to assume that the use of the word "boy" was any different than the other McCain-related insults thrown at Miller.

    The mere use of an ambiguous word (and it was ambiguous as there are multiple definitions that could fit in that context) doesn't mean that it was racial in nature. That is nothing more than an assumption without basis.

    Kimball Kinnison
  14. Jozy_Oguchi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2010
    star 3
    I don't know if I've ever seen anyone flounder so helplessly.

    I'm going to make this brief because I don't want to get vomit on my laptop, and you've shown repeatedly that you're not interested in substantiating your points through reason, but merely by asking for evidence that doesn't exist.

    First, I'm not familiar with the dictionary definitions for racism and don't particularly care what they say, but no sensible definition of racism includes "calling something racist but being wrong about it" so I'd advise you not to say stupid **** like that.

    Secondly, this attitude, combined with your 'burden of proof' that requires 'evidence' of someone's 'intent' - what constitutes evidence you are surprisingly tight lipped about, which is moot since we can't really empirically confirm someone's 'intent' - serves to implicate everyone who ever raises a charge of racism as the REAL racists, in the case that they don't manage to get a peer-reviewed statistically sound article published in the Journal of Stuff that Is Racist.

    Which is bad, if you think that racism actually exists in the world and that it would be preferable to have a conceptual framework in which we can sensibly recognize it, rather than demonizing the people who try to point it out(even if they're wrong about it!).

    If you actually do care about race relations in America, its mindnumbingly stupid but universally applicable ideas like what you just said that prevents solutions in every instance.
  15. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    There's nothing in this world quite like a white guy calling a black guy racist.
  16. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    There are plenty of reasons, all of which you continue to ignore, without providing any rationale for your interpretive choice. I also note that you've failed to put any limits on your standard that listeners have a duty to " try not to be offended." Your whole series of posts consists of abdicating any responsibility for the speaker, promoting standards for listeners that can lead demonstrably to deliberate misinterpretation, and failure to either address or acknowledge the cultural/historical connotations of the word.

    I've addressed everything you've put forward. Why don't you start by actually responding to even a third of our arguments. To remind you, once again, we never have said that it necessarily must have been a racist statement. You keep saying we did. We have argued that it would be reasonable for a listener to assume there was racial animus in the remark. Our case for that interpretation still stands, as it's independent of what you've laid out. Either disprove that case, prove why an intent standard is better than one that also considers the perception, or justify what an "evidence-based" standard would mean in this context, and how it would allow for any dialogue on racial issues at all.

    You can't just keep dodging the part of the discussion that you don't like.
  17. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Given that A) he was the first African-American to hold the post, B)he was receiving death threats, I don't find it unreasonable to suspect that an insult which holds racist connotations just might, given the context, be interpreted as racist.

    First off, let me say well done for attempting to argue the point with facts, rather than chest-thumping nonsense. However, as FIDo pointed out, the post in question was in direct response to his own post regarding Tea Party-backed Republicans advancing a racist agenda. So, it wasn't over-heated rhetoric, it quite factual. Would I have posted using those words? Probably not, but I won't hold it against him for commenting on the facts.

    And no, I don't think you're racist for opposing Obama's policies [face_peace] Come to think of it, no one has called you racist for your opposition in and of itslef.
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    General reminder to all to avoid taking distinct personal shots here. It should be about the issues and the views.

    Actually, I thought it was fairly obvious, based off the conversation it was said in, the topic at hand, and Brown's response to it, that there wasn't a gender/sex implication to calling Meg Whitman a whore, but about allegations that she had promised to not touch pension funds in exchange for an endorsement. I found it telling what groups gave him a pass on that one, but thought there was sufficient context to indicate how the word was being used.
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    Lowbacca, you think exactly the same word would've been chosen if they had been referring to male candidate?
  20. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I've heard male politicians called whores quite a bit, actually, in California discourse. The nation's top local radio show (over 1 million listeners during peak hour) routinely uses the term for any politician that appears to be trading political clout or influence for money or favours, and has been used to refer to the California legislature in general as well. I believe Schwarzenegger has gotten called that as well, but not 100%. Granted this usage doesn't come from politicians and their campaigns generally, but it's far from unheard of.

    Can scrounge up a couple individual citations on that, as well as it being used about groups of politicians, if need be, although it's tough as radio statements are hard to track out and not easily available so it's limited to what I can find quoted.
  21. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    Wocky makes the wrong point. Whether or not Brown's staffer claimed to intend or actually thought he intended any gender implication, the fact remains that "whore" is an inherently gendered word that has been leveled specifically against women for centuries, and that it takes on an extra sting when it's leveled against one of very few women in the political arena. This is true regardless of how many male politicians you've heard it used to describe. Sometimes the -ism (in this case, sexism) is in the context.
  22. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    I agree with Dani. It is inherently a female-based name, and however much it is borrowed by people to use on men, the implicit demeaning of women is assumed by the very usage of the word.
  23. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'm not saying I don't see why it riled some women, but then again, the president of the California chapter of NOW had said "Meg Whitman could be described as 'a political whore.' Yes, that's an accurate statement."
    Which is not to say it doesn't erase criticisms of the word usage, but is more that in the context brought up. Had it not been part of the conversation it was, and had it been only after the fact they tried to give it a political spin, then yes, I'd say that it could well have been intended just as a sex/gender jab, but Jabba-wocky's questions were, unless I misinterpreted, if that usage was devoid of gender/sex implications, which based on the context I would think so, and if I thought the same word would've been used against a male politician, and I would say it would be, and frequently is. But then, I am a large apologist for Jerry Brown.

    I'd say though, as more of an aside, it is weird to hear the phrases "one of very few women in the political arena" about California politics given that I actually can't remember a time when I didn't have two female Senators. 2010 ballot for statewide offices (8 offices) had just under 40% of the candidates female, and the percentage holds if it's looking at just the Republicans and Democrats, or the third-parties as well. Again, this isn't a "there's lots of women, it's all fair game" so much as more of a comment that women being rare in politics seems weird to me.
  24. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    We've had three straight female governors here in Arizona, starting in 1997, and another female governor before Symington (three of the four were elevated to the governorship because the governor was either impeached/removed or resigned). That doesn't change the reality for women in politics today. It's better than it was, but there's still a very long way to go.
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Except, let's apply a little logic here.

    1) We know that a variety of insults were directed at him because of his association with McCain. The insults were directed by supporters of McCain's primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth.
    2) We know that death threats have historically been given for a variety of reasons, including both politics and race. Therefore, your point (B) equally applies to both a politically or a racially motivated threat.
    3) There is enough evidence to say that the use of "McCain's boy" was definitely political. The mere attachment of McCain's name by McCain's opponents proves that.

    Now, by your argument, because Anthony Miller happens to be African American (your point (A)), we should consider all of the insults to be politically motivated, except "McCain's boy" which was either racially motivated or both politically and racially motivated. Contrast that with my argument that all of the insults can be explained simply by looking to political motivation.

    Occam's Razor states that, everything else being equal, the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. Alternately, it is described by saying that the explanation that requires the fewest new assumptions is most likely correct. Working from the same set of facts, my explanation is the simpler one that requires fewer assumptions. That means that my explanation is the more likely one to be correct.

    I'm not saying that "McCain's boy" wasn't racially motivated. I'm saying that you don't have enough evidence to claim that it was. There might be more evidence that proves it was racially motivated, but until that is presented, there is no need to assume that it was in order to explain the insult in context.

    Kimball Kinnison
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