A High-Tech Lynching, Or An Exercise in Verbal Disenfranchisement

Earlier today, Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com wrote a point by point response to Bethlehem Shoals's recent Josh Howard post. In my view, it didn't really add much to the discourse, so I won't bother with a point by point response to his response. But, I did find his other post on the situation, entitled "'Disenfranchised' In Dallas: J-Ho's Latest Diss," to be much more interesting and quite revealing, although maybe not in the way he intended.

I specifically want to address the issue of disenfranchisement, since Fisher uses the word in his title and repeatedly invokes the phrase "the Disenfranchised Black Man" throughout the post. When he first uses it, he actually calls it "the Legend/Myth of the Disenfranchised Black Man." Perhaps I'm being too literal, but the disenfranchisement of the black man is not a myth. It is a verifiable, horrible truth. I am sure that, being a patriot, Fisher knows enough about American history to know that, prior to the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870, black men did not have the franchise, or the right to vote. It's probably safe to assume that he knows about the Jim Crow era, during which black men were effectively denied the right to vote, and that this period did not end until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hell, Fisher might even know that 1.4 million black men are not allowed to vote today, as a result of felon disenfranchisement laws.

Since Fisher's a Mavs fan, I'm sure he knows that Howard is from North Carolina and that he was raised by his grandmother. He probably realizes that this means that black people were not allowed to vote for a significant portion of Howard's grandmother's life. Indeed, he writes: "Maybe he's got a personal tale of racial oppression. More likely, he's got a personal tale relayed to him by an older relative." Fisher even encourages Howard to "use it" and "express it," but then comes the key quote, the moment when Fisher shows his (white) ass: "But not like this."

Fisher, a white man from Texas, seems to think he gets to determine how and when it's appropriate for a black man to express himself. Not only that, but he also gets to determine who has and has not suffered from racism: "[W]hile racism exists it certainly hasn’t resulted in [Howard] personally suffering too greatly." And he criticizes Howard for being arrogant! An offhand, off-color comment at a flag football game pales in comparison to a white man stating in a public forum that he thinks he gets to decide when racism exists and when it's appropriate for black people to speak. I don't know how well Fisher knows Howard (I'm guessing not at all), but even if they were boys and went bowling together every week, the level of presumptuousness here would still be shocking. And it runs throughout the entire post.

Let's take a look at the full quotation:
This circumstance does not call for a dissertation on the meaning of The Star-Spangled Banner. That dissertation is provided (for free, J-Ho) to every second-grader in this country, and while Josh might’ve skipped that day in school (maybe he was smokin’ in the boys room?) the information is certainly available to him. He might learn that the flag is neither white or black, that while racism exists it certainly hasn’t resulted in him personally suffering too greatly, and that whining as if he’s somehow been penalized by being an American is a insult to citizens (black, white and otherwise) who over the course of the last 250 years truly had a reason to be upset, angry and disenfranchised.
First, given the chronology I laid out earlier, the use of "250 years" is quite curious, since the United States of America didn't even exist 250 years ago, and it's only been 43 since the Voting Rights Act. Yet, in 2008, a white man from Texas is telling people that "the Disenfranchised Black Man act" (emphasis mine) is "tiresome." Also, nowhere have I ever read that Howard feels he has been "penalized by being an American," but it's absolute fact that he's been penalized for being a black American. If one takes even a cursory look at the statistics, one knows this. Black men are far more likely than their white counterparts to be unemployed, to be incarcerated, to be killed, to die of disease, etc. The depressing list goes on and on. But, no one today "truly" has a reason to be upset or angry. It all happened 250 years ago. And I won't even get into the infantilization of framing this as a second grade education Howard is too dumb to process, or the use of the word "whining" (but I will note that Phil Gramm is also from Texas).

Before I end, I want to return to this word disenfranchisement. The right to vote is not a joke. It is something to be taken extremely seriously, especially in the black community, where people literally died (and not that long ago) for it. If Fisher's breezy (and incredibly condescending) prediction: "I’m taking odds that while Josh talks of supporting Obama, he’ll never actually make it to the voting booth on Nov. 4." is any indication, he doesn't get it. Voting is an expressive right, one that Fisher presumably is okay with (although if you're a black man, Fisher would appreciate it if you check with him first), but it's not the only one. Humor has traditionally been one way that black people have expressed themselves in the face of oppression, laughing to keep from crying. It's one thing for Fisher to not be amused by Howard's comment, but it's a far graver thing for him to attempt (even in his indirect, ineffective way) to silence him.

Maybe for Fisher, the flag and the national anthem mean "soldiers-lives-bought freedom," but is it really that difficult to understand that it might mean something else to a black man from North Carolina? Somewhere where the American flag flew for hundreds of years, while black people were terrorized and abused and denied the right to vote. Somewhere where black men still suffer from great inequalities. That it might not symbolize freedom, but oppression? And even if doesn't signify that, that a black man from North Carolina might be indifferent to the national anthem? Isn't that his right? Can he not express that indifference to friends in what, even ten years ago, would have been a private moment?

I want to be clear that I'm not saying Fisher is a racist, but it is apparent that he has, to use his phrase, "visited arrogant foolishness". How willing should we be to excuse him? If we held him to the standard he uses for Howard, he wouldn't make it. After all, the information is certainly available to him. But I'll be generous and turn his advice back on him: Please swap your sense of humor, your Holier Than Thou White Man act and sense of entitlement in exchange for some humility.

Be sure to check in on the Presidential 21 Tournament, still going on below.

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At 9/17/2008 6:04 PM, Blogger The Hero said...

That was an excellent read and breakdown. Props.

At 9/17/2008 6:18 PM, Blogger Ravi said...

Nicely done.

At 9/17/2008 6:43 PM, Blogger Raoul Duke said...

A moment of clarity in a world in a state of ethical, moral, and historical chaos.

At 9/17/2008 6:50 PM, Blogger Joey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/17/2008 6:52 PM, Blogger Joey said...

"it's absolute fact that he's been penalized for being a black American. If one takes even a cursory look at the statistics, one knows this. Black men are far more likely than their white counterparts to be unemployed, to be incarcerated, to be killed, to die of disease"

none of these things happened to Josh Howard

i wish the more liberal minded could simply acknowledge that theres people in society who CHOOSE to play the victim card. Its not just blacks.you get attention and none of your problems are your fault, surely you know someone like this in your life? i dont believe that just because someone says theyve been slighted, that you MUST believe them. People are getting tired of being told how bigoted they are when they look around at their life and everyone seems to be getting along. not that theres not racism that happens everyday, but people need to realize that there will always be assholes on earth, racism will never completely dissapear and right now, you, Josh Howard, and I live in one of the least racist countries on earth, ever.... this is more of a response to your/Fisher's article not Howards comment.

At 9/17/2008 7:13 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

First of all, Josh Howard didn't play the victim card, he made an offhand remark at a flag football game. He didn't ask for any of this.

Anyway, I was simply pointing out that there remains great inequality between blacks and whites in this country, and just because it's better than the old days doesn't mean there aren't problems. So, no, those specific things I mentioned haven't happened to Josh Howard, but I'm sure he's seen those things happen to people around him, and with a greater frequency than you have.

Furthermore, structural racism is a lot deeper than an individual being bigoted or not. So, it's not "there will always be assholes," it's institutional. Take for example you looking around, and "everyone seems to be getting along." Well, where are you looking, brother?

I'm sure white people are tired of hearing about racism, but don't you think black people are tired of living it?

At 9/17/2008 7:14 PM, Blogger PostmanE said...

People are getting tired of being told how bigoted they are when they look around at their life and everyone seems to be getting along. not that theres not racism that happens everyday, but people need to realize that there will always be assholes on earth, racism will never completely dissapear and right now, you, Josh Howard, and I live in one of the least racist countries on earth, ever....

Wait, you wanna stick with this? You're not going to delete this too?


At 9/17/2008 7:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

You know what else is true? Josh Howard has spent his whole life being Josh Howard, never spent a minute just being some black dude, and everyone around him, they're all Josh Howard, too. And when he meets someone black, he feels no commonality or identification with them, because he's Josh Howard and they're black.

Expressing the generality that America has race issues isn't playing the victim card, it's stating a fact. It should be LESS controversial than bringing race into individual issue.

At 9/17/2008 7:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

"Everyone seems to be getting along."

At 9/17/2008 7:38 PM, Blogger BPH said...

Another Joey:

What has happened to Josh Howard should not matter in this case. (ASSUMING THIS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIS REMARK:) He is allowed to care to about the disenfranchised even if he himself has risen above it. Of course, I speak only of such severe symptoms as incarceration and unemployment; he still has to combat racism in forms you may not recognize, and, it appears, in at least one form that you, yourself are guilty.

That form: framing the reality of racism as a crutch, and equating belated and insufficient franchisement with a "victim card," while implying that it should, however, be our concern that (white) people are victims of accusations of bigotry, even though, as you say, the only clues available to them suggest that "everyone seems to be getting along."

If I may, who are these individuals you know (of) that are being accused of bigotry? Of what are they being accused?

Because if by "people," you really mean you, on behalf of the white majority you hope agrees with you, then it's very simple: don't take the accusations personally, if the label stings; take them to heart. Because people are not, as Shoals said without saying, getting along.

At 9/17/2008 7:47 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

Reading Fisher's piece and arguing with the knuckledraggers on the db.com boards makes me ashamed to be a Mavs fan. Usually choking in the playoffs makes me ashamed to be a Mavs fan, but today is different. It reminds me of Steve Nash coming out against the war and the mouthbreathers crucifying him for it. To this day I think that played a role in Cuban declining to match the Phoenix offer.

At 9/17/2008 8:06 PM, Blogger Joey said...

i pointed out that individuals will always be racist because i believe thats the only kind of significant racism that really exists anymore. i know that you think this is preposterous, but the problem is it could be true, and youde NEVER see it, or believe it. the things you cite that blacks suffer at higher rates than whites you just assume are due to racism, cause thats how you wanna see it.

ive never been called racist in my life, what im talking about is the constant implication that society is racist, institutionally, as Recluse mentioned. i just dont see it.

At 9/17/2008 8:17 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Wait, you think the inequalities between blacks and whites almost all the way across the board are JUST A COINCIDENCE?

What are some competing theories for why these inequalities exist, other than racism?

Oh, wait, I know. Black people are inherently lazy and stupid, that must be it.

At 9/17/2008 8:38 PM, Blogger Joey said...

make all the fun you want dude, but this shit bums me out, and no its not just a coincidence. it stems from living under institutional racism, but its more complex than racism, plus, that was decades ago. white people (or any other race) are not the problem that black people face in 2008.

At 9/17/2008 9:15 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

I don't think blacks are inherently lazy or stupid but using that as an answer to why the inequities exists is no less meaningful then deciding that inherent racism in the American system causes the inequities.

The system does not make individuals behave criminally.

The Constitution allows for the suspension of certain rights for those convicted of crimes. This was not designed into the system in order to oppress blacks. Giving criminals the right to vote injects into the system an opportunity for politicians to directly pander to criminals. Does that seem sensible?

"Wait, you think the inequalities between blacks and whites almost all the way across the board are JUST A COINCIDENCE?"

I can't speak for Joey but I don't think its a coincidence. I just don't think the system is solely responsible. Part of the responsibility lies in the individual and some of it lies in the family, some of it lies in the local culture, some of it lies in the general culture.

I don't care that J-Ho smokes dope or thinks as he thinks. In the first instance, its not my problem and I wish pot were legal. In the second instance, he has the right to think as he thinks or feel as he feels. So what if he thinks as he does. If he were to commit a serious crime then I would have a real problem with him. Maybe that's why, in spite of his contribution to us winning the gold medal, I still cant stand Carmelo.

At 9/17/2008 9:19 PM, Blogger JJG said...

Long time reader, first time commenter here.

@ Joey: I don't wanna waste everyone's space with a long ass response detailing what most people here already clearly understand, but you would be doing a favor for alot of readers if you checked out an article like this:


It's a very basic thing or two about the white people who you say aren't problematic for black people.

and for r.lobstah, i agree, the system doesn't make everyone behave criminally, and it's a bunch of things together that do...

However, it can increase the odds that an individual turns to criminality. This is undeniable.

my apologies if I'm stating the obvious but at times it needs to be repeated

At 9/17/2008 10:07 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Actually, many old disenfranchisement laws related to those who committed crimes of "moral turpitude" that were specifically tailored to include crimes that were typically committed by blacks and not for crimes committed by whites. It was deliberate and it was racist.

When you say that disenfranchising is Constitutional, you need to understand that it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, it was interpreted. Furthermore, that concept originated when prisons were not factories. Things are different and these laws definitely have a disparate impact on African Americans.

At 9/17/2008 10:21 PM, Blogger T. said...

It was only ten years ago, and in East Texas, that James Byrd, Jr. was dragged to his death behind a truck by 3 men.

It was only 2 years ago that nooses were hung in and around Jena, Louisana leading to violent confrontations between black and white youth - and what really appear to be disperate punative measures for the students involved.

Is this a case of people being assholes? Really? People will always be assholes? Just because he's rich and successful, Josh Howard can't feel aggrevied by this?

(Sadly, the "one of the least racist countries on Earth" is probably true, but getting a D while everyone else gets an F doesn't mean we've succeeded)

At 9/17/2008 10:32 PM, Blogger trouc said...

So are you guys gonna morph into a political blog or what? This shit's been on fire, BR: excellent response, and shoals has been putting my own thoughts into words too... Keep it up

At 9/17/2008 10:41 PM, Blogger David Arnott said...

JJG posted exactly what I was going to... so I'll add a pillar of the genre for Joey to examine.


At 9/17/2008 10:56 PM, Blogger evan said...

Josh Howard has issues with himself and not because he is black. He just has issues. If he doesn't respect the US because "he is black" then he needs to do something about it... move to another country where I'm sure he will have the "opportunity" to make the same money he makes here... There are far worse places to live and to have been born, he should be glad he wasn't born in a 3rd world country. The fact of the matter is he is waving the race card as if he is the poster child for "blacks". He isn't. In fact he is in the top 5% of income bracket in the richest countries of the world. Josh Howard needs a wake up call and he should be a lot more humble than he is. If he really wants to wave the race card he should do something "positive" about it and not create enemies.

At 9/17/2008 10:59 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

As bullshit a term as "the race card" is, it has now been proven that it can be misused. Kudos, evan.

At 9/17/2008 11:01 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Starting today, FreeDarko is going to start carding at the door.

At 9/17/2008 11:07 PM, Blogger knowing is maxo said...

@R. Lobstah, "Giving criminals the right to vote injects into the system an opportunity for politicians to directly pander to criminals."

I reject that whole heartedly as a reason that criminals shouldn't have the right to vote. You find me a politician willing to pander to criminals specifically, and I'll find you an out of work politician the moment someone notices.

At 9/17/2008 11:37 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

I want to be clear that I'm not saying Fisher is a racist"

Hell, why not come out and say it? You dance around in throughout the post. "White man from Texas" is code for racist, right?

And picking at his loose math is pretty weak. There's a whole lot of really heinous shit going on in that paragraph besides the math.

"(although if you're a black man, Fisher would appreciate it if you check with him first)"

Cheap and unsubstantiated.

With a target as easy as this dumbass article, I'd expect you to tear it apart, not just prod at it.

At 9/17/2008 11:56 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

"The system does not make individuals behave criminally."

I just don't understand how you can read this blog day after day, and then type shit like that. I assume that around here, we take it as an article of faith that the difference between those of us with premium-brand educations and fancy-ass jobs and those of us in the system lies in opportunity, not something like agency (or even worse, morality).

Or listen to Bodie Broadus, to Michael Lee, after the latter declines an offer to work a corner in the WB:

"What the fuck you wanna go to school for? What you wanna be - an astronaut, a dentist, a pay-lawyer nigga?"

Good shit, Recluse.

At 9/18/2008 1:00 AM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Systemic racism is not the direct cause of crime, no. Systemic racism leads to systemic poverty leads to systemic crime.

Or, to elaborate even more, systemic racism leads to lack of opportunity (or the perception thereof, which can be just as powerful), which leads to systemic poverty, which leads to systemic crime. Crime rates are high wherever the majority live in poverty, regardless of race. That a far greater proportion of the black population lives in poverty, however, is not regardless of race.

Again, think about shit before you type. There's always more to things than you first see, everything's connected, no part of the whole can be taken on its own. You should know this shit.

At 9/18/2008 2:51 AM, Blogger Kareem said...

Black is the new white; Obama is the new Bush; Hispanics are the new Niggers. I've got two million of my family members and innocents dying in the last twenty years in Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine; and no one in Oakland has a job to rely on. Brown, black or white.

Fascism manifests in all sorts of ways. Some people support an Obam-i-fascist and others support a McCain-i-fascist. The bottom line isn't niggaz, sand niggaz, white trash or wet backs. It's that mother-fucker in Lehman Brothers who isn't the 85k laid off, and it's all those investors and lending institutions that had their asses COVERED by our senate, 'HoR's, presidents and elects. We don't need to talk about race as a guise for class anymore. We're dealing with head on class warfare, the rich and poor. Deal with it. Don't beat around the bush, vote for one murderer over another. A really great man once said, some men rob you with a fountain pen. Bob Dylan said that. You've all probably heard it.

To end my explosion, people talk about psychological trauma and statistics, while everyone is getting fucked. Do something about it. Really, do something about it. A bunch of smart heads here on some sinking ship of intellectualism and liberal-nothingness. It's not that red-blooded, red neck you have to watch out for. It's that cool, well-dressed, educated asshole who will sell your future for a profit. Be real.

At 9/18/2008 2:55 AM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

These comments about criminality and coincidence disgust me.

If you are black you are more likely to be arrested and go to jail for committing the same crime as a white

If you go to the link you can go to one of many studies that support that claim.

You can continue under the misguided assumption that there is an element of criminality that "lies in the individual and some of it lies in the family, some of it lies in the local culture, some of it lies in the general culture."
But the reality is that there is a fundamental bias that blacks and other minorities face everyday of their lives. Stating otherwise is, and I mean this as literally as possible, simply ignorant.

At 9/18/2008 4:52 AM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Kareem: Yes. I'm young and poor, and almost everyone I know - black, white, hispanic, asian - lives at or below the poverty line. And that line gets harder and harder to rise above every single day. And those who stand to gain don't care, really, about the skin color of those who stand to lose - just that they do.

I have all kinds of anecdotes I could share - my friend having to work two jobs just to put gas in his car; my parents' business losing money for the first time in thirty years; one of the smartest kids I know having to quit college and flip pizzas because he could no longer pay for it - but ultimately, it all comes down to this: we are fucked. And that is something to talk about.

I can't disagree, though, that black people have more to be bitter about than white people in this country.

At 9/18/2008 5:22 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Sometimes I feel like an arsehole for being white and priviledged.

At 9/18/2008 5:39 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Personal opinion, this site is much better when it gives me no urge to respond and that sentiment stands even in the self-deprecating interpretation. Can we get Round III please?

At 9/18/2008 9:58 AM, Blogger avery said...

...somehow, to bring it full circle, we have to face the racial divide in our own beloved sport, and in most of the major sports (hockey, NASCAR has the reverse...and golf is throwing racial discourse on its head)...but the history of the "black minstrel" for the entertainment (and occassional derision) of the white audiences is something very much ingrained from blackface to Sanford and Son to Dave Chappelle (who gently mocks and disturbs).

But I feel that in our discourse of professional basketball and other sports, this also plays an unconscious role, where americans are satisfied with some african-americans gaining a bit of success (through accepted entertainment means) to the lack of success for others.

I'm not exceptionally well-versed in this, but at least watch "Bamboozled" (though the ending falls off point) and check out John Leland's "History of Hip."

At 9/18/2008 11:00 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


"I think josh howards comment is a reflection on education. I think the schools need to teach deeper in the history classes and make the students aware of racism but also teach them that all people are not bad. "I can relate to not feeling wanted by my own country at times but as I dug deeper I realized that America is divided and we need leaders to bring America closer together. An example where I felt unwanted by my country was when I didn't get a chance to tryout for my national team. I believed it was because my history.

I hope he overcomes this.

Family 1st"

At 9/18/2008 11:42 AM, Blogger Kareem said...

m. alana: You're right, statistically, "black people have more to be bitter about", but so do undocumented workers from Mexico and El Salvador. I could share one hundred "8 people to two bedroom" stories, cops profiling and flipping bull shit charges (this goes for white protesters and Hispanic or black drivers); I've dealt first hand with tens of people not getting paid by their employers, sometimes thousands of dollars. Do you know how long the due process of the California Labor Commissioner is? Four months for the people I work with. They live hand to mouth, and they're supposed to hold on for four months.

m. alana: stories are a dime a dozen of oppression in the slums. I think it is more important to ask, 'to what end?' Are we consciousness raising? To what end? Are we going to wait for someone else to make that difference? Will someone legislate a halfhearted response on our behalf? A butterfly flaps its wings in American and the whole developing world tumbles.

I have this friend who is going to Stanford Law-real nice guy-to become a law professor at some institution. That is his idea of getting involved, his place in change. Ten years from now, when he's finally teaching, he might trigger some of his students to, ten years from then, do something about it. What are people waiting for?

Black people have more to be bitter about. Good. That's true. That's also history. And a working model incorporates history into its process, but it doesn't see history instead of the present and future. We all have something to be bitter about. We don't have Democracy. We don't have job security. We don't have pensions. We don't have health care. Our nation now has (potentially) 15 trillion dollars of debt to deal with in the coming years. Does anyone understand what that means? This is depression and we've got a newly integrated office of Homeland Security. They've beefed up national security legislation and put more cops on the street than ever. Everyone's got freedom of speech, but few exercise it to mean anything.

Sure I support Howard's right to say what he wants. But I also know that it doesn't do anything but pay ESPN anchors' paychecks.

I know pragmatism is sinful around here, but lets be honest: you could publish a million surveys, reports, and studies on race, but the only race we've got now is the race to the bottom.

At 9/18/2008 11:49 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

When I was in the utmost throes of Palin hysteria, I decided that now, with the country the way it is, the Republicans had decided that we were all black people. And thus, had co-opted the urban populist dem identity politics playbook as a way of appealing to this rising sense of white oppression.

At the hands of whom, you ask? People like the Obamas, who are rich and lawyers. So blacks become the elitists keeping Track and Turf down, their transformed playbook moves the battleground from the city to the exurbs, and yes, white becomes the new black.

The flip side of this is the notion, advanced by Juan Williams, that Obama isn't addressing black issues enough. As if when he addresses issues that, while traditionally black, belong to everyone now, he's actually planning to—as a black man—make African-American LESS of a priority when it comes to jobs and such. Now, we're all in the same boat. Give or take a few centuries of oppression.

At 9/18/2008 1:50 PM, Blogger Anso said...

Man, people are really threatened by comments such as Howard's. His comments only pertained to the ritual of paying symbolic respect to America -- imagine if he'd criticized America directly.

I get all kinds of flack since i choose not to participate in the national anthem prior to sporting events. My friends get embarrassed and implore me to stand up, remove my hat, and stare at a digital image of a rippling, majestic flag. It's kinda absurd -- where does the Constitution or our mentality as a nation urge us to pay tribute to America at basketball games? Why not at the cinema? Why not at restaurants, concerts, plays?

Such innocuous comments spurring this type of reaction/overreaction -- i've seen more than one commenter suggest that Howard 'go back to Africa,' a classic -- indicates to me that people with racist attitudes are just aching for an excuse to air them out. Maybe you all knew this already; I guess I was still holding out hope that people were trying to be less racist. Wrong wrong wrong.

At 9/18/2008 5:36 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Kareem - we don't disagree, I think. You probably agree with most of what I said, and I agree with most of what you said - we're just saying different things.

As to "what we're doing", I'm as much of a reactionary idealist as anybody. I'm a big commie liberal, albeit a nonviolent one by necessity. In a direct sense, though, short of community work, consciousness raising, and all-out revolution - all of which are valid and important! - one can only vote for one of two political philosophies to gain power after this year's election. It comes down to which one is closer to the right way to go, not which one is the absolute best; the economic/social policies of one stand in opposition to the proven-failed policies of the other, though neither may be perfect.

The unregulated stock market has exploded, spattering the entire economy in its gore - most of it dripping onto we that stand at the bottom. One candidate wants to keep government regulations sparse and ineffective; the other candidate wants to use regulations to try to prevent this nonsense from happening again. It's not a difficult choice for me.

At 9/18/2008 6:01 PM, Blogger shoefly said...

What gets to me, and what I think Recluse accurately explores, is this formulation of, "This is how he should have behaved."

As in, "Bolt should have run through the tape." This performer should have behaved a certain way, my way, the Costas way.

And then the knowing shrug that, sure there is racism in the society, and there are reasons to be upset, but he makes 10 figures, and is thereby expected to divorce himself from his prior experience. Cut your hair, keep your head down, win one for the team. Why are they so afraid? That's what I've never understood. Why is this other so threatening?

It's the same way they use issues like wire-tapping and habeas-corpus. "Yes, it happens to some people, but unless you are guilty what does it matter to you." It really gets to me. "Yes, I'm all for freedom of expression, but not when you say what I don't agree with." Is it so difficult to believe that someone who is not directly threatened, in current crisis, could care about what is happening? Has the level of self-enclosure reached that level?

It's the reason I completely stopped watching football, I would gladly take the obnoxiousness of the 90's Cowboys over a structure that would make millions telling me how awful Owens, and Johnson, and Vick, and Young are; because they do not behave in a certain way, hand the ball directly to the official.

It's one thing to just honestly say, "I want you to behave exactly the way my expectations of you assume you to behave." And it's another to come out with the faux, "yes I understand your concerns and your right to your concerns... but you still can't behave that way.

I much prefer the honest, old school racializing of say, Pat Buchanon, over someone like Chris Mathews insulting "real Americans."

Let's call a spade a spade.

At 9/18/2008 6:45 PM, Blogger Dan said...

And I won't even get into the infantilization of framing this as a second grade education Howard is too dumb to process, or the use of the word "whining" (but I will note that Phil Gramm is also from Texas).

What the hell? I'm on board for most of this posting but why do you all of a sudden generalize that Texans as a whole must be like Phil Gramm. I would also like to inform the poster that I do not own a horse nor do I own cowboy boots. You degrade your argument by resorting to generalizations.

At 9/18/2008 6:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I don't think the idea is that all Texans=Phil Gramm, but that there might be a common cultural thread linking Gramm's "whining" statement and the ones the Recluse is going at.

FreeDarko is a friend of Texas.

At 9/18/2008 7:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

And would this common cultural thread have to do with Texas or do you perhaps mean insensitive white men. The two are different I've heard.

The point being that one should choose words carefully, particularly in a posting such as this.

At 9/18/2008 7:14 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Maybe I'm projecting here, but I took it to be about telling people to suck it up and be a man, or something. That's one version of "insensitive," I guess, but one that is pretty darn Texan.

At 9/18/2008 8:31 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

m. Alana, if someone is serious about affecting change in their communities, in their country, and they try to consider honestly the mechanisms of change, it is immediately apparent that voting is a far ways away from that machinery. The Fed is an undemocratic institution. So are most of the regulatory bodies in this country. Alana, what you are advocating is a slow decline, sustaining a behemoth machine that is falling apart and costing lives internationally. You are talking about a national policy. Do you know how we shore up our loses as a nation? War profits. Isn't Lockheed Martin one of Obama's biggest supporters?

To put it flatly, my extended family lives in the cross-hairs of every US president of the last 70 years. My five Palestinian cousins will face one of the most pro-Israel presidents we've ever had. You are voting for murderers. People should be violently against this government. Only if this volatility manifests as sustainable organization against these policies will we really be doing something. How do you rationalize voting for a murderer? I don't.

At 9/18/2008 10:08 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Kareem - I never said that the only way to affect change is to vote; only that, as the current economic and literal worldwide destruction of the past years have shown, the difference between our only two choices is a larger and more valid one than is generally assumed. I will not vote for anyone sharing the party views, whether in economics, foreign policy, or domestic issues, of the past administration.

I absolutely don't agree with every stand of my chosen candidate. And I can absolutely understand your personal stake in the matter of Israel/Palestine; I don't agree with the US government's full stand on that, either. However, where I think we disagree is in your statement that what I am advocating is a "slow decline"; on the contrary, I think a more temperate foreign policy and a more regulative economic policy is a step in the right direction, if only a small one. And even a small step forward is better than standing still or moving ever backward - and that's the choice we have. If this is only the smallest action that we as Americans can take towards fixing the clusterfuck the world's become, then, well, it's still an action.

I disagree with you on war profits. As technology's exploded and guerilla tactics have fluorished, land wars are no longer profitable - which the Republican leadership, and everyone else, has learned to the American people's (and the national debt's) detriment. It's no longer army against army; it's army against people, and the people have lesser equipment but far greater numbers and tactical advantage. I also disagree that Obama has any interest in furthering America's foreign war involvement; public opinion, if you'll count on nothing else, indicates otherwise. Withdrawing our troops from endless, useless, and costly wars, and raising taxes - that's at least a step in the right direction, if not the full solution.

At 9/19/2008 12:02 AM, Blogger Kareem said...

Step forward or side step? There can only be a step forward if the trajectory, the end result, is something more equitable for everyone at home and abroad. Obama doesn't stand against militarism; in fact, he wants to militarize other places in the world. War profiteering goes beyond weapons. One of the biggest winners of the Civil War was J.P. Morgan. Never made a gun in his life. Some people and institutions benefit from the IMF and World Bank. If you can show me the design and future for our world where Obama is pivotal in that design, I'll show you a wild imagination. People are scared to admit what this country really needs. They vote in the meantime.

Lamar Odom is the disenfranchised poster child. 'Sheed's the old Panther. And Howard is of the 5%. The more "problems" he has, the more I see him as a rebel who is challenging the falsity of the system. Just to try and fake relevance to the original conversation.

At 9/19/2008 1:18 AM, Blogger John said...

i grew up in fresno, california. i saw deshawn stevenson play for washington union when i was at edison.. i went to almost every fresno state home game back when we had damon forney, dominic young, melvin ely, terrance roberson. my dad was a social worker who worked with every situation you can imagine: hmong/laotian/cambodian immigrants, hispanic farmworkers, inner-city african-americans. if you think racism is imagined or a joke or doesnt matter then you don't have the slightest idea what america is. i apologize for the rant but my proximity to race issues growing up make me sensitive to blind ignorance

At 9/19/2008 3:38 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Kareem, your relatives would be out of the crosshairs the second they stop electing terrorists as their leaders and stopped squatting on my land.

At 9/19/2008 3:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I personally disagree with Howard, but the responses to his statements have been ignorant and insufferable arrogant.


At 9/19/2008 4:09 AM, Blogger J and S said...

Example one that racism is alive and well in America: An American has the audacity to claim someone else's land half-way around the world simply because of his ethnicity.

Thank you for you timely example of why we need to keep talking about this stuff.

At 9/19/2008 10:09 AM, Blogger Martin J. Steer said...

Thank you for your excellent post!

At 9/19/2008 10:58 AM, Blogger wondahbap said...

the train of thought that a rich black man hasn't experienced racism is a disgusting, because money doesn't change things. Just because josh Howard's bank account is bigger than most blacks, doesn't make him not black, thus not exempting him from sentiments held maybe by many young black men.
That's not saying that, as a country, we aren't making strides, because we are. This Presidential race is said to be neck and neck. Neck and neck with a Republican candidate that for the past 8 years Republicans rejected going against a transcendent phenonenom (who happens to be black).
In what other Presidential race would this be neck and neck if the phenom was white? It wouldn't. McCain is such a dud, that his campaign went for shock value in picking Palin, and would rather sling mud, and pander to the lowest common denominator. Reality TV tpe of politics. Race is still very much a factor. it can be overcome, but it is still a problem facing blacks in 2008.


If you want to talk about the Constitution and founding fathers, then make sure you remember that they considered blacks to be 3/5th of a man. Also, that when the systematic criminalization of black men is used to prevent their voting rights, then yes, the Constitution was set up for that reason.

At 9/19/2008 12:11 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

Lobstah, American cluster bombs spread over peaceful, civilian targets in Southern Lebanon constitutes my moral outrage. The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have some of the most heinous conditions I've ever experienced. 80% of people are out of work. Until four years ago, they had open sewage around their "homes"--concrete hovels, five people to a room. Electrical wires hang in the open across small corridors, and light doesn't reach down to the alley-level except at high noon. You want to know why those people have so many guns? Because they're constantly fighting for their life. I don't think that anyone who took a walk through those camps would leave unaffected. The desperation there is several multitudes of the ghetto, for everyone. Everyone understands sensually that there needs to be significant change in the order of things. That's the difference: Howard mocks the Anthem on a phone, Palestinians and Lebanese start revolutionary movements. Violence is a last resort. It's hard for people like Lobstah to understand what brought a movement to that point,

At 9/19/2008 3:11 PM, Blogger Michael said...

I thought what Howard said was pretty dumb, because I don't think all blacks don't care about the national anthem. He surely can't speak for all black Americans.

Anyway, I could barely tell whether Howard even meant it. Seems like he was just tossing off a comment.

The flag is a symbol of the country, and the country is not monolithic. So, the flag represents the freedom of speech, and it represents slavery and racism. It represents everyone's reductionist view of what the country is.

Also, I've always thought it was strangely meta that the anthem is about the flag itself. It's not about the country, really, but the flag as representing country. By contrast, a song like "Americ the Beautiful" is really about the country.

Are other countries' anthems about the country, or the flag itself? Is this unique to the USA national anthem?

Regardless, what Josh Howard really did was disrespect a song about a flag. I thought it was kind of a dumb comment, but not exactly a serious crime.

It seems a certain type of patriotism is the outward expression of a serious insecurity about the greatness of the country. The louder one has to proclaim greatness, the less convinced one actually seems.

At 9/19/2008 3:45 PM, Blogger Posit said...

I'll just leave these here...


At 9/19/2008 9:17 PM, Blogger a.fan said...

not to hurt anyone's feelings, but there's a whole lot of crap here. The history of race may have been constitutional but the present reality of race is meritorious, and minorities are even supported by affirmative action. Blaming racial statistics on racism is obsolete. Racial statistics is simply your race's performance on average now,.. want equality? work harder.. not complain more

At 9/19/2008 11:35 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Kareem, we'll have to agree to disagree - though I still think the difference in our views is a matter of degree, not opposition. I do believe that the difference between an Obama presidency and a McCain presidency is one worth going to the polling station for. Your mileage may vary. (You should argue with R. Lobstah, not me, in future - though he may make you want to bash your head against a wall, depending on the length of your temper.)

a. fan: I'm glad you're a fan! You're also a moron. Thanks for playing.

At 9/20/2008 12:20 AM, Blogger a.fan said...

i'm a fan of basketball, not a fan of you, Alana. Yea, when faced with rock hard logic most responses are as weak as yours.

At 9/20/2008 2:16 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

a. fan,

It's the length of your ability to comprehend the other side, or lack there of, that is the problem. There are plenty of good reasons people think as they do. Even the ones who oppose rather then differ in degree. You might try to spend some time thinking about the good reasons I have for thinking as I do before assuming its all a lack of attention, information or intelligence. You'll grow. I promise.

Understanding what brought the movement to that point is one thing. Legitimizing it is another. Your Howard and phone compare and contrast to the violence of the Arab revolutions is a heinous example of moral relativism. Kareem, who are they fighting for their lives against? Each other? The Israelis? The Cedar Revolutionaries? They are buying guns instead of fixing their homes. That is a problem. If the US or Israel wanted to overrun these people, actually wanted it, it would be done. So, you can't blame either of those two for the choice the Arabs have made again and again, spend money on trying to kill the scapegoat rather then on milking it.

At 9/20/2008 3:33 AM, Blogger m. Alana said...

R - I tend to believe that anyone saying and believing something like this -

Blaming racial statistics on racism is obsolete. Racial statistics is simply your race's performance on average now,.. want equality? work harder.. not complain more

- is a dumbfuck, not worth discussing racial issues with. Call it a quirk of mine.

As for the both of you, ever heard of Google? It's not that your argument is different than mine - it's that it's untrue. Blacks start out from birth on a lower playing field than whites in America. This is provable fact, and proven fact. Google some shit:

Death penalty statistics in comparable black and white defendants.

Study about discrimination in hiring: a white male with a high school degree and a felony is more likely to be hired than a black male with a similar education but no criminal record.

Those are only two of tens of thousands of studies that you can find using the google machine. Isn't the internet wonderful?

But yes, your cutting arguments are of course correct - that it's harder to be black than white in this country has nothing to do with racism. There's no such thing as racism in this day and age, silly! It's just that black people lack merit, the whole of them, as compared with white people. Since we live in a purely meritorious society and all. They should educate themselves better, lazy things! And they're also probably shiftless, and full of chicanery.

Yup. Of course it's that you're right and I have nothing to back me up. Not at all because you're an ignorant dumbfuck.

At 9/20/2008 3:43 AM, Blogger m. Alana said...

R.: The difference between Kareem and I is one of belief, not of argument. He believes the government is not and cannot be a force for good; I believe it can potentially be. I believe the government can effect positive change; he does not. I respect that difference, and both, depending on individual belief, are valid. It's a matter of belief, and we are not going to change each other's minds on it - therefore, the agree to disagree cliché.

It's just more fun to tell racists on the internet that they're dumb.

At 9/20/2008 5:37 AM, Blogger a.fan said...

lol, sure, insult all you want, yea it makes your argument sound intelligent and more convincing right?
first of all, the absolute fact is that, if you look at the constitution and the law, there's nothing that excludes any kind of person from anything. In fact there are quotas pushing for people of different backgrounds in industry and academy.
Now as a citizen, what more can you ask for? If a black man is smart and hard working, he can reach whatever he is capable of reaching.

What Alana brings up is stuff like statistics on convictions on crimes of similar nature. So, a black man who robs a woman gets convicted at a higher rate as a white man who robs a woman. Yes there is an element of racism there, probably resulting in 5% more black robbers convicted if the same amount of robbers are tried for each race.

Is that a reason to get melodramatic and adopt a victims attitude? I suggest you go out in today's accepting society and not have a hostile attitude. Over time you will find that society is accepting tends away from racism.

One example are asians. orientals are supposed to have entered the country mostly with the same lack of privileges and some degree of discrimination, but in 2 or 3 generations, statistically speaking, orientals are supposedly making a living on par with whites. So, to me, it seems like there is nothing to blame on constitution, or any reason to feel underprivileged in relation to society or government.

At 9/20/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

I've been staying out of this for a minute, but it's incredibly naive to think you make everyone equal in the eyes of the law, and all of a sudden, everyone *is* equal. There are huge repercussions from the centuries of slavery and Jim Crow that don't magically disappear overnight. To take but one example, it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read, then blacks weren't able to go to school with whites and had no funding for their own schools. There are STILL huge inequalities in public schools because they're typically funded by property taxes, being inner city schools fail, and suburban schools excel. But, if blacks don't achieve academically at the same level as whites, then it's the fault of each of those individuals? Okay.....

Of course, it's possible for hard-working black people to succeed, and many have. But, to pretend that blacks and whites (I'm necessarily generalizing here) start on a level playing field is being willfully blind.

As an Asian-American, I find your version of history where Asians had a comparable experience to blacks in this country to be so misinformed, I don't even know where to start. There was discrimination, of course, legally and otherwise, and there was basically indentured servitude in Hawaii and other parts of the country, but it was NOT slavery. There was no Middle Passage for Asians. And, for the most part, there was no Jim Crow Era for Asians. There was no system specifically designed to keep Asians uneducated and powerless.

Also, I'll just respond to Fish here. The reason I may not have "understood" his use of the word "disenfranchise" is because he doesn't seem to know what it means. That puts the fault squarely on him, the one who doesn't know a word's meaning, but insists on using it over and over. The word specifically refers to taking the right to vote away from someone. That's what the word means. Look it up. That's why sentences like this--"Others use the position [of "Disenfranchised Black Man"] as a 'too-cool' pretense"--confuse the shit out of me. Why would anyone say, "Hey, aren't I cool? I'm not allowed to vote?" It doesn't compute.

Anyway, Fish, you're not an idiot because of your race or your residence, you're an idiot because you don't know the meaning of the words you spew, and you seem to think you have the right to tell other people whether they've suffered racism or not, which is incredibly offensive to anyone with a brain and a heart.

At 9/20/2008 5:11 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Well said, Recluse. As was the original post.

At 9/20/2008 10:21 PM, Blogger a.fan said...

fair enough, you're right in your points. i never said that asians had the same full experience as african americans, but at the point arrival, asians did face most of the same circumstances at the time. I was just illustrating that there are no real barriers in america, and most of the developed world now.
Because of that, many attitudes, blaming things on racism, and institutionalised unfairness, etc, is on the same level as whining now. Sure you can be angry about the past, there is some dignity in that, but im just pointing out that to take it further and think you're victimised by race in a big way in todays world is just a weak way of thinking.

At 9/20/2008 10:36 PM, Blogger a.fan said...

and yes, the issues of african americans starting from a lower base, inner city neighbourhoods that see a smaller portion of government funding. I never said today every white and african man born start off the same, only that you can work your way to any heights (barrack obama, but he started off upper? middle class). Its not up to the government to change your race's or class situation though, thats my personal belief, only to lend a helping hand. So things can improve, such as making sure government funding for education is equal in lower socioeconomic neighbourhoods is equal or more to any area. The rest is up to the society in question. It is an many generation effort, but that change comes from every member of that society working hard and smart, and not any other way.

At 9/21/2008 12:12 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

m Alana,
And you don't see bias in these studies you linked to? Just one example.

"In Missouri, Judge Earl Blackwell issued a signed press release about his judicial election announcing his new affiliation with the Republican Party while presiding over a death penalty case against an unemployed African-American defendant. The press release stated, in part: "[T]he Democrat party places far too much emphasis on representing minorities . . . people who dont' (sic) want to work, and people with a skin that's any color but white . . . ."7 The judge denied a motion to recuse himself from the trial. The defendant, Brian Kinder, was convicted and sentenced to death, and Missouri's Supreme Court affirmed in 1996."

Here is my question, was the Judge supposed to recuse himself because he became Republican or was he supposed to recuse himself because he thought the Democrats played too much identity politics? I read his statement and that is the criticism I see coming from his statement. The Democrats play too much identity politics, so I quit. That's not racist and one could argue it is the opposite. It seems these days you can be called a racist for not viewing certain groups as victims and instead view them as people with the basic needs and abilities of the average human being. But, the author of the paper you linked to has edited the statement in such a way as to make it look like the Judge thought blacks or non-whites are lazy. Not directly stating it but by putting those three (blacks, the lazy, non-whites) in a proximity the Judge did not himself do.

The paper provides no description of the method used to objectively judge how similar various crimes, various defenses, or various sentences are. They just state that the studies objectively classified such data and followed the methods used to measure the correlation between smoking and cancer. That's not good enough for me.

The paper suggests a sort of affirmative action in the legal system.

"The influence of race on the death penalty is pervasive and corrosive. In other areas of the law, protections have been built in to limit the effects of systemic racism when the evidence of its impact is clear. With the death penalty, however, such corrective measures have been blocked by those who claim that capital punishment would bog down if racial fairness was required. And so, the sore festers."

That conclusion is insufferable.

There is nothing ironclad about this paper and it betrays it's bias rather then objectivity. My conclusion, the various examples of selective quotes (I've only highlighted one) suggest selective statistics. I don't consider this paper to be valid.

At 9/21/2008 12:44 AM, Blogger m. Alana said...

a. fan: See, you look much less like a dumbass now! Blanket statements are not your friends. I will cease mocking you now.

R: I literally posted the first two google results I got. This was not to prove either of their points - it was to prove that the studies are out there, millions of them, and they're easy to find so that one can interpet them on one's own, as you have.

And while I'm at it, the reason you make me want to headdesk is not that you disagree with me. It's your habit of isolating individual facets of an argument and using them to change the subject, rather than actually trying to argue the original point. You did this with Sarah Palin and abortion, when abortion was never the original point - possibly because the pick of Palin is indefensible, whereas you feel the issue of abortion gives you a moral high ground. Changing the subject of conversation to an argument you feel like you can win is no way to turn people to your side, or to prove that you are right - you win no cool points for being right about something you're the only one talking about.

At 9/21/2008 3:42 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

What I did with Sarah Palin and abortion was try to argue that one could be a feminist and pro-life. Sorry if the head-desking stunned you off that point. I reminded you of it again and again. The argument made by numerous posters here was that the Palin pick would set women's rights back if McCain won. My point was that the right to kill children is not necessarily the most clear cut litmus test of a woman's right to self actualization. This was on point.

You have absolutely no head clearance on your undefended statement of Palin's indefensibility as McCain's pick. She is no more gaff prone and no less experienced then Obama. She is no less qualified then Obama. In the election we are choosing between preferred approaches to politics, not between competent and incompetent. Pro-lifeness, being an atheist and grievance mongering are not the highest qualifications of a politician. Is that on point enough for you?

"I literally posted the first two google results I got. This was not to prove either of their points - it was to prove that the studies are out there, millions of them, and they're easy to find so that one can interpet them on one's own, as you have."

--- My response to this is drawn directly from your response to me. "... rather than actually trying to argue the original point... you feel the issue of (racism) gives you a moral high ground."

--- Rather then argue the point of racism you choose to argue the point, again and again, that I am ignorant. Then when I pay you the respects of actually reading your suggested material (although I have read studies such as this one in my college career and beyond) you choose to insult me (not to say I'm offended but it is certainly your hope to be be personally offensive rather then on point) by being flippant about the study itself, "I literally posted the first two google results I got.", as if I am unaware of this sort of thinking or the system of grievance mongering that is supports.

a. fan,
Just so you know, your above stated views are what I assumed you were expressing when you first posted on the site. So, I suppose there is some disconnect created by biases. In some company it is considered rude to say that racism isn't a primary problem in this country without first qualifying the statements with some concessions that race plays some role (some might argue that the role played by race is to some degree made greater by the attention paid to it by grievance mongers). I only agree with what you are writing about education in that I would think that no government (certainly federal) funding of education might be, might be, better then the supposed leveling of the schools by throwing more money into a failing school system. There is plenty of money spent on education in this country. It's just spent stupidly. It does not take much skill to teach the basics and perhaps some better effort can be made to draw in experts in the more advanced fields we want students to have knowledge of rather then wasting money on teaching experts. We need less education degrees given at universities and more degrees in math, science and language. I wonder what privatization (with some significant transparency and basic regulations) of the public schools might do for the system. Obviously privatization doesn't provide perfect results but it might be a corrective under the right regulations.

At 9/21/2008 3:55 PM, Blogger Posit said...

Lobstah 3:42
"In the election we are choosing between preferred approaches to politics, not between competent and incompetent."

Sentiments like this scare the shit outta me.

At 9/21/2008 4:04 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

R, the studies were directed at a. fan, not you.

My god, you've got a high sense of self-importance.

And you're changing the subject again.

At 9/21/2008 9:30 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

m. Alana,
You know what's easier then typing a subject on Google and then reading the results? Scrolling up and reading what you wrote.

"As for the both of you, ever heard of Google? It's not that your argument is different than mine - it's that it's untrue. Blacks start out from birth on a lower playing field than whites in America. This is provable fact, and proven fact. Google some shit:"

It was after this paragraph that you posted the links. Am I still self-important or was your personal attack based on other information?

I argue that this quote taken from your post also indicates that you were trying to "correct" our opinions about racism with studies you think are relevant. So your statement, "This was not to prove either of their points - it was to prove that the studies are out there" to be a misrepresentation of your intention.

Lets assume that you are as unclear about the subject as you were about your own posts or your motives, how have I changed the subject? It looks to me like I stayed on subject and remain consistent in my arguments. I think I could make a very good argument that the same cannot be said for you.

So, who is it that you think is incompetent?

At 9/21/2008 10:58 PM, Blogger The Walker Wiggle said...

@ R. Lobstah - I don't think it's worthwhile to debate with you for the same reason that I don't bother to argue with strict Creationists. But, it has to be said that you're attempts to hand wave away the clear statistical evidence of racial disparities in sentencing with the following:

"Part of the responsibility lies in the individual and some of it lies in the family, some of it lies in the local culture, some of it lies in the general culture."

is non-sensical or worse.

The same should be said about your either a) conflating of felony disenfranchisement with disparities in death from prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, etc., or b) just ignoring of the latter.

At 9/22/2008 1:43 AM, Blogger a.fan said...

Well, R.Lobstah, private schools are probably more efficient from an economist's and scientist's point of view, but privatisation of such a key social service is a real statement that the country is promoting a larger and larger class divide system.

In my personal opinion of a fair society (and a functional society, since a large enough class divide simply results in revolution or voting in of a social state), there should be socialism in education, and to a lesser degree medical care. So, provide a path for every child of any background who is able and willing to stay the course, an idea along those lines.

Technically, i think that once you fund schools equally, of course poorer areas will have students with more problems (or less effectiveness as you say), so those public schools should do all they can to become the focus of their students, which they probably already do, but of course as i was saying, my attitude is its up to people to help themselves.

At 9/22/2008 9:47 AM, Blogger a.fan said...

m.alana, i read a bit more of the previous posts, did you say you were a struggling student? up until recently i was too, i can relate =).

Yea im just adding my opinions since theres a good discussion going on here.

At 9/22/2008 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no such word as “disenfranchise.” The noun franchise gives rise to two verbs: enfranchise (to give someone the franchise), and disfranchise (to take it away again).

At 9/22/2008 2:43 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Rudizzle: Details, details...

a. fan: Essentially, yes. I'm glad to see your contribution to the discussion - a bit more of a reasoned response makes much more sense to me than your initial comment did.

At 9/22/2008 9:47 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

I don't even know how to begin to be pragmatic regarding the education system seeing that I've done some teaching (but very little), have been a student, read some material on education (but very little) and have observed the effects that education has had on students. I am no scholar of education. The two things I have taken away from my observations are, we are serving no general good from expecting so little from students. Allot of money is wasted by public school systems. A third observation might be that a teaching degrees is a wasted education.

I love how you've clammed up right when you've noticed the corner at your back and the drowsy side effects of paint. Good night now.

At 9/22/2008 11:25 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

R: Mm, yes. I knew you'd somehow grasp at that as a sign of victory. Pardon me, I did indeed make a mistake - one of paragraph breaks. Forgive me. If it makes you feel like you got one over on me with your flawless logic, though, feel free.

I'm distracted now, though. Unless I misunderstand, you have a teaching degree? You've taught? And you're "no scholar of education"? "Allot?"

At 9/23/2008 3:41 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

Not a sign of victory. I don't gain anything by your giving up. I would gain, this process would gain, if you were a bit more open minded then you've displayed up to now. You don't need to concede my points or agree, but recognize the soundness of the principles I've expressed. Say something to the effect of, "I get that some people think that a human child is more important then the woman's right to choose. I disagree but I see the nobility of that point as well". You can say something to the effect that, "I think that race plays a huge role in the lives of many Americans and that its unfair that some people suffer disproportionately to others simply due to historical racism that effects us to a degree today. Still I might concede that this degree is far less then it has ever been, that many blacks have opportunity to make it if they work hard, and some very influential people perpetuate racial grievance for their own gains (Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the Democratic Party)." You may never be ready to say any of those things but I certainly am not trying to conquer you to the degree that you convey contempt for me. I don't mean this on a personal level. I just think that leftists and conservatives have way too much contempt for each other and if things get really bad, if the economy keeps taking a shit, then that contempt is going to metastasize. Maybe you think that would be good for the country. I think otherwise. If reconciliation of our Americanness (and by that I mean the notion that Palin voters or Obama voters are not My America) is not a goal then arguing with you would only be an exercise in winnowing ad hominum arguments from dogma.

You didn't make the mistake of paragraph breaks. You behaved like a history revisionist, adjusting the facts of our conversation to suit your contempt for me. Its like Pat Buchanan trying to lay the blame of the Holocaust on the Brits and Americans because of his contempt for the direction both countries have gone since those days. My arguments have taken three forms. One is to poke fun at your ad hominum attacks another is to point out logical flaws in your argument, and the last is to argue against points that I don't agree with. I may be wrong but I don't think I've attacked you personally, suggested you are stupid or made fun of some grammatical errors. I think I've stayed on point and although I've asked you to show me were I've lost track of the point (seeing that you have accused me of this), you've not yet offered even a modest effort at fulfilling this request. As far as I can tell you are just some college kid getting inundated by leftist propaganda in school and while basking in the new warmth of what passes for liberal education you are regurgitating the rote ideology of the "liberally" educated. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt when I ask you to correct my points. Up until now you've answered with the popular pedantry of trite indignation. This again betrays your proximity to a lit major. Would you care to try again?

There is a difference between being trained to teach and being a scholar of education. Its the difference between your high school coach and Tex Winter.

At 9/23/2008 2:17 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

Lobstah: You are right. Race is less of an impediment than it was sixty years ago. You are absolutely right. That still does not explain away the mostly brown and black ghettos. That "historical racism" has material manifestations: urban incarceration rates, where 66% of black males are convicted of a felony. Ask them to right that economic scale, when they can't even apply for most jobs. But that is inconsequential. Race is less of an issue than it was forty years ago.

The language of racism has shifted tremendously since that time. Fifty years ago, an economic system of exploitation and expropriation hid under a veil of racialism and racism. Since that time, "things are more equitable", everyone's got an equal chance at the bottom; and all those Richie Rich's still play with their billion dollar toys. Now that language of racism, which justified an economic system, has turned to Benjamin Franklin, Fredrick Douglas, Horatio Alger, and Booker T. Washington for its heroes. Boot-strappery! The great failures of our Democratic principles and "free" economic system hide behind boot-strappery.

Yesterday, I was doing some bill advocacy for a woman with the water company. Fortunately, the water wasn't shut-off, but she told me about her son who shot some other kid. Her family had filed multiple complaints with the school, because this other kid was bullying her son, even threatening to shoot him. They spoke with school councilors on a regular basis, spoke with the other kid's parents, and spoke with the police. The other kid was on parole, had prior gun-possession charges, and was threatening to KILL her son. Her son was so compelled by the threats and bullying that he got a gun behind his mother's back and shot this other kid. My question to you is, where was the school? Where were the cops? Aren't justice systems developed to stop this type of thing from happening? The kid only got 90 days because it was self-defense, and he's a minor and he turned himself in, so it won't stay on his record, but what the fuck? Just the other day, she brought medicine to her daughter because her daughter had a tooth ache. She asked her daughter where the school nurse was, and her daughter told her that they don't have one any more. What if a kid's really sick? Are you gonna call an ambulance, hospitalize the kid, cost the state (or the family) thousands of dollars? How does privatization solve this problem? Divesting more money from public schools? It's a dead horse. I'm not advocating Democrat or Republican; I am advocating people ahead of state. I'm not advocating market or control; I'm advocating people ahead before economy. The problem isn't technology, the problem is management and people. A culture of self took generations to create and takes generations to change. But we need a government that will institutionalize those values into its every action.

It's not that your ideas have no nobility. It's that they're wrong, offensive, and contradict every sensual experience I've had for the last two years. They seem to be ideological bliss as blindness. The same to m. alana. Democrats do not advocate a government of the people--they kill people. A government for the people. That is what I want. I hope that makes sense.

At 9/23/2008 3:58 PM, Blogger sauld420 said...

You want some statistics ill give you some live from a black man on the front lines.

"If the current incarceration rates continue, 28.5 percent of blacks will be incarcerated at least once in their lifetime."

Oh and we arent targets?
I had never even talked to the police my entire life until i moved to an ALL white town in southern Michigan halfway through my sophomore year. I hadnt been there a WEEK before someone called the cops on me.
Ive lived racism, this isnt some 1950's shit just because they arent burning crosses in front lawns anymore.
You want to see real racism, go try and get a job, or a loan, or a cab, or a grant, or walk down the street in a group of more than two.
Ive been jumped at a party of all white people and when the cops got there the started throwing me around, onto a windshield, onto the pavement, into the car. Then for good measure i was maced WHILE sitting in the back of the cop car. And then the fucking pig rolls the window back up and i damn near choked to death. Couldnt see for three days, mace crystallizes when it dries and was gummed up under my eyelids because he sprayed me directly in the eyes from maybe 3 inches away. I was completely sober, all those drunk ass underage yahoos got let go and got to go home. No charges brought on anyone except me for resisting arrest and trespassing.
So i dont want to hear shit from any of you because truth is we live racism every fucking day and some of us cant wait until revolution Huey P. style.
Im not at all racist, my two best friends and my baby's mother are white. But i do hate some white people, without question. Do you know how that is possible?
Because all white people arent the same and most blacks recognize that. Time for you white people to recognize that we arent all the same. I want equality more than anyone for my people and all people. But i dont ever see it happening. The real people controlling the country(the elitists) have all you dumb hillbilly fucks thinking blacks and mexicans are taking your jobs and money when in reality they are the ones stealing hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economy. Keep blaming us, we will keep singing and dancing and shooting each other until shit gets too crazy for yall. Then we are going to take our fucking communities back, by force if necessary.

You want some real truth on racism google "Black Wall Street"
See how the government really feels about us.

At 9/23/2008 7:07 PM, Blogger The Walker Wiggle said...

@R. Lobstah - I don't think you can grasp for the high road of reconciliation while patronizing your debate partner to a disgusting degree. "As far as I can tell you are just some college kid getting inundated by leftist propaganda in school and while basking in the new warmth of what passes for liberal education you are regurgitating the rote ideology of the 'liberally' educated."

If I were M. Alana I might needle you to explain exactly what you've conceded on your side (in the interest of being open minded..)? That, yes, it was anti-feminist of Sarah Palin to charge Alaskan assault victims for their rape kits? Or maybe that, yes, you're willing to ignore a lot of statistical evidence to defend your claims about U.S. race relations?

At 9/23/2008 11:01 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/23/2008 11:40 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

R: Try again. I freely admit to you that I've been to college for about three weeks now. I live in the depths of the poor, rural South. I have never in my life been subjected to "leftist propoganda", as you phrase it. If you had ever been to any part of the Bible Belt, you would know how ludicrous that accusation is. No. My opinions are my own, and no one's value system has been spoon-fed to me.

So, feel free to think of me as immature and uneducated.

Moving on, to accuse my arguments of being invalid because I haven't made qualifying, inclusive statements is fallacious - and hypocritical, considering your statements to a. fan about his clarification on race. Your accusation is immediately, obviously untrue. I indeed made exactly the sort of qualifying, inclusive statement on abortion that you used as an example - pro-choice, pro-life, simultaneously. I said that repeatedly. More directly, look at my conversation with Kareem, just in this thread, or even my recognition of my mistake with a. fan. Maybe it's your own style of discussion that leads people to respond in kind?

Note that I have not attacked you for being a sheltered, white, suburban grad-student with little life experience outside of your own white, upper-middle-class, suburban world. Note that your self-admitted personal experiences have made no appearance in my arguments, relevant to my point as they may be. Nor have I said to you that, as a woman, a minority, and a member of the lower class, having lived the statistics and politics we are discussing, I may have a clearer grasp of the subjects at hand than you. But I have said nothing to that effect, because I thought it inappropriate, as well as a logical fallacy, to use one's opponent's personal life to prove a dissenting point in an argument.

And if you want a description of your changing of the subject, here's a brief flow chart:

race -> economics -> something about bootstraps -> Sarah Palin, feminist hero -> your moral superiority on abortion -> my lack of ability to understand the opposite side -> the status of my education -> my gullibility

Clearly, you stayed directly on-message.

Kareem and Sauld have made far more valid and interesting points than either of us in our recent discussion here. More discussion between you and I will do no parties involved any good. I'm done now. You can flail some more, if you want.

Oh, and: not a lit major. Linguistic anthropology.

At 9/28/2008 3:32 AM, Blogger wandering by said...

The fact that many of you here don't fully grasp the concept of "disenfranchised" as it was used by Fisher and have even pontificated at length about what you regard as his erroneous use of that term doesn't reflect on him. It reflects on YOU. You look clueless.

To set the record straight, the term has a broader meaning - and one that is used very commonly - that extends beyond its original root meaning of not being allowed to vote. Following from the root idea that voting carries some sort of ability to change things, being "disenfranchised" these days conveys the idea of being on the outside, without any say in what happens. It doesn't necessarily mean a LITERAL inability to vote.

At some point in his life, Josh Howard may have been (figuratively) disenfranchised in some way. But get a clue people. That vanished long ago, given that he was a star athlete with all the perks through 4 years of college and now for many years in Dallas. He has the world at his feet in ways that few understand. Given his means and his lifestyle, Josh Howard is being a "poser" in playing the game of being downtrodden these days, and it's not some sort of "Texas racism" to point out the truth.

At 9/28/2008 3:48 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

You heard it here first, professional athletes have the world at their feet when it comes to real power.

At 9/28/2008 11:20 AM, Blogger Kareem said...

Sometimes their sneaker deals double as war pacts and their agents got the 'red-line' number for the prez in all matters of sports importance.

Wandering by: I think that what the article is speaking about, using your own definition of 'disenfranchised', is Howard's inability to shape the public's perception of him. A presidential candidate has a high degree of control over his public image these days. CEO's of large corporations have an even greater control of their private lives and public persona--they are largely anonymous to most people. Basketball players, however, are scrutinized by the minute, second, and inch.

Howard's language comes from a history of oppression, and its attachment to certain symbols or sentiments may or may not leave as his bank account increases. A change of values doesn't necessarily change with his change in value.

At 9/28/2008 3:00 PM, Blogger wandering by said...

You guys are so invested in "spinning" things for Josh Howard that you aren't even using logic. Do you hear what you are saying?

Let's break it down here.

Both of you try to argue my sentence that "he has the world at his feet in ways that few understand" as if that means he has some sort of POLITICAL power. But since when is life merely about politics or war or red phones?

Instead, just think, people. My point is that right now, he isn't "just a basketball player" but instead he lives in the highest socio-economic level in the world. He makes $10 mill or so a year, which according to the NY Times places him in the top 1/100th of 1% of wage earners in the US. It's reasonable to expect given his salary and endorsements that he will be worth $25-50 mill or more by the time he retires which puts him in the top 40,000 to 50,000 in the entire US.

That's wealthy. That's privileged. That's having it made for life, economically, before you even turn 30.

And besides being set for life, with money comes influence.

Does he have influence? Do people listen to what he says? Of course!!!

Take a look: here we are contemplating the words he said at a flag football game, and those words reverberated across the US. If you or I did the same, no one would care - and no one would even know. The world pays attention to his words and actions. Who is more likely to get access to talk to George Bush or Bill Clinton or Oprah or Obama or Bill Gates or others who have influence - Josh Howard the star basketball player, or someone with a regular job making an average wage, living their lives scraping by? Josh, of course.

And the point many are making (including I think Fisher) is that he rose to this level from nowhere in a country he expresses disdain for. That just gives him a face of ingratitude and "spoiled punk." There are millions of truly downtrodden in this country, just hoping to pay the bills, and one who has it made apparently isn't even thankful for being there? It just leaves a sour taste.

Let me also address Kareem's idea that Josh somehow has an "inability to shape the public's perception of him." Come on, that's sheer nonsense.

Yes Kareem, you are correct that people scrutinize what he says. But that means that rather than having "inability" he instead has FULL ABILITY to make his image be whatever he wishes it to be. HE is choosing what is shaping the public perception of him. It was entirely HIS choice this year to paint himself as a druggie and a rebel, as a malcontent and insubordinate who didn't care about team or teammates, and in this incident as an ungrateful rich kid. And let's be clear here, he has not made any attempt to say he's being misunderstood. This is the picture he apparently WANTS everyone to have.

It's a free country. He can be a spoiled ingrate if he wants. But when people turn up their noses at him as a result, that's all on him.

At 9/28/2008 10:41 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

Wandering by: just because people "listen" to what he says, does not mean that they listen to it correctly. Furthermore, making an argument that he has influence solely because he is a public figure is incorrect. Does he have more public attention than Average Joe? Of course. Does that equal influence? No.

I guess I have a problem with your line that he has the "full ability to make his image... whatever he wishes it to be."

The point is that he isn't white, middle class values. He doesn't represent pride and patriotism for his country, despite his economic position. Maybe he thinks he found a winning hustle, and that is the only way that he's made it anywhere from nowhere. The biggest issue I find with your statement is that it seems you feel that he shouldn't act himself, but he must "check" himself in order to deserve his public persona or money. Why are you assuming that he is "creating" this public persona? How do you know that he wants people to view him this way? I think you're making quite a few assumptions. McCain and Obama have an entire media empire promulgating whatever image they wish to show; Howard, however, says anything publicly, being himself, or otherwise, and he has 100 pundits analyzing him, with little ability to shape the response or language of the media.

At 9/29/2008 2:02 AM, Blogger wandering by said...

Kareem, you're still trying to "spin" the story for Josh Howard, in ways that really ignore logic.

First, your contrasting his situation to that of Obama and McCain is pointless apologism for Josh Howard. Those two guys, in the middle of an election cycle, aren't typical of anyone else in America - no matter what those two do or say, 100 supposed experts and spin-meisters on TV will criticize and another 100 defend.

Forget them. No Josh isn't them - and neither is anyone else.

But Josh IS a typical celebrity athlete, public figure, and mega-rich person. Because of those things his words can and do get attention.

Do those words and preferences have influence? His endorsements clearly tell us the answer is Yes. If he had no influence, they'd pay someone else to endorse their product, pure and simple. He makes MILLIONS just by saying he likes this sneaker, that car dealer, and so on, with the company expecting his preference to influence others.

Do people listen when he talks? These reactions every time he talks tell us clearly the answer is Yes. People DO listen. He's created quite a stir, and done so repeatedly over the last 6 months.

Also, let me respond to a specific "spin" you laid out to defend his controversial words. You said: "The biggest issue I find with your statement is that it seems you feel that he shouldn't act himself, but he must "check" himself in order to deserve his public persona or money."

Nowhere did I say he had to somehow set out to prove he "deserves" his money. That's your spin but not my concept at all. It's his. He earned it.

All I said is that if he wants to play the "woe is me" game when he is about as far from downtrodden as it gets, it's gonna be seen as a lack of gratitude. And rightly so. I didn't assume anything about him but merely was observing that yep, he himself is creating an image, and it is one of an ingrate. Is that what he wants?

What you fail to grasp is that the more you are given, the more "responsibility" that comes with it. Yes, sometimes that means he'll have to choose between guarding what he says, or taking a beating to his reputation for saying something controversial. Self-control is something we have the capacity for as people, and it's not a negative to use it.

In Josh's case, is "punk and ingrate" how he wants others to see him? If yes, then it's just as valid for Fisher and every other critic to blast him (if they want) for that choice, without it being seen as some sort of racist vendetta. It's choices and reactions, and if he DOESN'T want the reactions, then it's within his own control to make different choices.

At 10/04/2008 12:19 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

By: I still think you're drastically overestimating the influence a lower-tier (visibility wise) professional ball player can have. If power=influence, then at first glance your argument seems valid. But there are different kinds of influence, and I'd argue that the influence a player has is only monetary, not innate. That is, a ball player like Josh Howard can get people to do anything by paying them, but can't get people to do anything for nothing in return. Some ball players have a bit of that kind of influence - but only at the highest tier of visibility, a LeBron James or a Tiger Woods or a Tom Brady. Josh Howard, not so much. We're talking about what he said not because Josh Howard is powerful, but because we're basketball geeks and racial politics geeks and we're bored. If "people talking about you" means power, then how powerful must your average youtube meme participant be? Is Chris Crocker going to run for president? Your argument is based on a flawed principle, at least in that respect.

Or, to put it another way: I and several of my friends are volunteering for various political campaigns. Who's volunteering for Josh Howard?

At 10/04/2008 12:27 PM, Blogger m. Alana said...

Also, wandering by, being rich doesn't mean someone is no longer black. That Josh Howard was one of a tiny, tiny fraction of black youths to get rich in this country, via one of the very, very few options that most feel is open to them, doesn't change who he is and what he identifies as - and the racial identity of blackness in this country is still permeated by the deep roots of racism, lack of opportunity and, yes, disenfranchisement.

At 10/07/2008 12:55 AM, Blogger a.fan said...

forget josh howard, he's not important and he's not a great person,... do something to support obama -_-, the republicans are really sickening this time, mccain looks like he's a worse person than george bush, and palin... world war 3 would happen with them up there.


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