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Jonathan Chait got it mostly right on the toxic identity politics of today

Jonathan Chait's epic race fail: How a story about racism and Obama goes horribly wrong

Left-of-center writer Jonathan Chait has committed the sin of telling the truth about our self-appointed political-correctness police, those who use their membership within an historically victimized and oppressed group to victimize and oppress others (men, mostly, and mostly white men, but sometimes white women as well). It indeed in so many quarters is open season on all white males, who are deemed automatically to be oppressors and victimizers because of their immutable characteristics of being male and being white. (As a gay white male, my non-heterosexuality gives me only so much cover for being a member of a class of victims, as homophobes widely consider homosexuality to be mutable. [Of course, it doesn’t fucking matter whether it’s mutable or not; we all should have the freedom to express ourselves sexually as we please, as long as we do so consensually.])

New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait started a shitstorm when he wrote about toxic PC (political correctness) police. Had he been completely wrong, he probably would have been ignored, but since he spoke so much unflattering truth, I’m one of only a handful of Internet commentators who have yet to comment on his comments.

First off, it’s necessary to describe the environment in which all of us Americans operate: to such a large degree stupid white men (emphasis there on “stupid”) still rule, as evidenced by the popularity of “American Sniper.” Not only is the Clint Eastwood film still No. 1, despite Eastwood’s penchant for talking to a vacant chair (actually, for “American Sniper’s” target audience, I’m sure that was in Eastwood’s favor), but the book American Sniper is No. 1 on amazon.com, and in amazon.com’s top-100-selling book titles there are no fewer than four different versions of the same fucking book (as I type this sentence) — plus an apparent knock-off book about yet another American sniper called The Reaper.

So mindless, blind worship of stupid, murderous (or at least violent or at least aggressive) white men widely misconstrued as “heroes” continues. (This could be its own blog piece, and indeed, was going to be, but I’ll get it over with here: “American sniper” Chris Kyle, who died by the sword as he lived by the sword, was no “hero.” He was part of an illegal and immoral occupying force in Iraq. As part of that illegal and immoral occupying force, he slaughtered a bunch of people who were, at least in their own eyes, defending their nation from a foreign occupying force [duh]. As Iraq had posed zero threat to the United States, as Iraq had not killed any Americans and had had no capability of killing Americans en masse [yeah, those Iraqi “WMDs” claimed by the war criminals who comprised the illegitimate Bush regime have yet to be found], there is no valid argument that Kyle was “protecting our freedoms” or some other jingoistic, Nazi-like bullshit. Kyle very apparently just really, really liked to slaughter people, and if he were Muslim instead of “Christian” and weren’t taking the big dirt nap, he probably would be a member of ISIS right now, slaughtering people left and right with gleeful abandon.)

So that is the nasty backdrop (part of it, anyway) against which those of us who aren’t stupid white men (again, emphasis on “stupid,” not on “white” or on “men”) or one of their worshipers must live in the United States of America.

That is the kind of background and context that Jonathan Chait’s piece is largely if not wholly missing, and I fault him for that fairly glaring omission, as well as for apparently not having allowed his piece to gestate long enough before birthing it upon the nation. (I often if not usually let something gestate for at least a few days before I finally give birth to it, such as this piece.) Further, the gravity of the topic — political correctness (which falls under the umbrella of identity politics) — could merit its own book, so no magazine article or blog piece (not even this one) could do it more than partial justice.

But Chait describes fairly well the phenomenon in which so many members of historically oppressed groups identify so much with being oppressed (whether these members as individuals actually have been very oppressed as individuals themselves or not) that they are hyper-vigilant about any signs of oppression.

Seriously — it used to be that people were just oppressed. And oppression was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be oppressed.

Now, being a member of an historically oppressed group is très chic. And apparently maintaining your membership in your très-chic group of oppressed people means constantly finding fresh meat, fresh new examples of how you have been oppressed, so if there aren’t any actual examples of how you have been oppressed, you’ll wildly exaggerate or even fabricate such “examples.”

Since you haven’t been (very) oppressed yourself lately, you’ll gladly piggy-back on to others’ (real or exaggerated or fabricated) oppression. That’s always fun.

If you didn’t jump on the Michael Brown bandwagon, for instance, to many that means that you are a white supremacist who supports the gunning down of black men, especially young black men, by white fascist cops who enjoy killing black men.

Never mind that it still remains quite unsettled as to whether or not Michael Brown actually went for the cop’s gun before the cop shot him dead. The cop claims that Brown did, and not only was the cop not indicted by a grand jury (which, indeed, might have been a bogus process), but the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to bring charges against the cop for civil-rights violations (granted, proving a civil-rights violation can be a high bar to clear, I know from personal experience).

It’s disturbing that so many people jumped to conclusions and have held fast to them. If your identity politics is that of the oppressed black American, then of course Michael Brown was innocent, a “gentle giant,” and was gunned down by whitey primarily if not solely for his race, and if your identity politics is that of the right-wing white person whose worldview at least verges on white supremacy if it isn’t already fully there, then of course Brown was a thug (and the phrase “black thug” would be redundant) and of course the white police officer only did what he had to do.

Either Brown went after the cop’s gun or he did not. (If I went after a cop’s gun, I’d expect to get shot.) The cop, under our existing (deeply flawed) legal structure, used deadly force against Brown legally or he did not. But whatever actually happened on that August day in Ferguson, Missouri, has little to nothing to do with identity politics, yet for many if not most Americans, their identity politics dictates the “facts.” That’s scary.

(The Eric Garner case, as I have written, at the bare minimum was a clear-cut case of manslaughter by the thuggish white cop, and, entirely unlike the Brown case, we have video of Garner incident, so “I can’t breathe” is an apt slogan of protest, whereas I never was on board with the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” meme because there is no evidence that Brown ever put his hands up in surrender — there are only biased claims that he did.)

The case of Woody Allen, too, also wasn’t about the actual knowledge of actual facts but was about identity politics.

Women whom Rush Limbaugh might call “femi-Nazis” have asserted that of course Mia Farrow, being a woman, told the truth that Allen had molested their adopted daughter, even though the allegation came during a nasty custody battle — and that of course Allen, being a man, was guilty as charged. Never mind that none of us was there and has any actual knowledge of what did or what did not happen; we have only the claims and counter-claims of the members of a deeply broken family whose dirty laundry has been scattered all over the public square.

This is some highly toxic shit.

The case of Bill Cosby, though, and that of Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger when he was running for California governor in a bullshit recall election in 2003 that had amounted to a do-over election since the bumbling Repugnican candidate had lost the election in 2002: When several women have come forward publicly to state that a man has sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, to call all of them liars (as so many did to the at-least six women who came forward about the past deeds of the future Gov. Groper) very most often is a misogynist, patriarchal thing to do.

I have little to no doubt in my mind that Bill Cosby (and Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger) serially sexually harassed and sexually assaulted women.

But actual victimization is diminished when victimization is falsely claimed or is claimed whether or not there is any evidence to support the claim of victimization — usually out of identity politics. Perversely, many if not even most members of an historically oppressed group very apparently want the latest example of possible victimization (such as the shooting death of Michael Brown) to be true victimization because, in their eyes, it strengthens their political power as claimants of oppression.

It’s perverse that oppression has morphed from something that no one wanted into something that so many cherish to the point that they’ll happily fabricate it if they deem that to do so will advance themselves somehow.

(In his piece, Chait correctly notes that “It [identity politics and its concomitant claims of perpetual and ubiquitous victimhood] also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” Indeed, both Slate.com and Salon.com, two of my favorite websites, have resident identity-politics writers, taking the feminist and the black angles, mostly, and I routinely read these writers’ pieces, and often if not usually I agree with them [Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie rocks], but sometimes, yeah, it’s apparent that they’re really milking it. [Sorry, Salon.com’s Brittney Cooper, but in his article Chait calls you out on your frequent hysteria and hyperbole fairly fairly.])

This professional “victimhood,” is, I suspect, what has eaten at Chait, but that he perhaps did not articulate well enough in his now-infamous article.

And of his article, this paragraph, I think, is the money shot:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

The emphasis there is mine. In the most rabid “p.c. culture,” indeed, “There is no allowance … for the possibility that the accusation [of an act of oppression or victimization] may be erroneous.” Within this toxic, tightly closed-off atmosphere, facts and evidence have no place at all; the politics of group identity rules supreme. Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter. Period. If you disagree with this, then you hate women and/or you are a pedophile yourself. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” (never mind the very inconvenient video footage of him roughing up a convenience store clerk while he stole cigarillos from him on the day of his death) who was gunned down in cold blood by a white supremacist police officer. Period. If you disagree with this, then you are a white supremacist.

And indeed, as Chait writes, “A white person or a man can achieve the status of ‘ally,’ however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue.” Yup. That means going along with all manner of blatantly bullshit groupthink in order to get along, lest you be called a misogynist or racist/white supremacist or worse.

The goal of “p.c. culture” as it stands today indeed so often seems to be to push all white men into a corner, indeed, to destroy all white men or, minimally, to make all white men feel perpetually guilty (and thus perpetually disempowered) because, of course, merely by their having been born white and male, they inherently are the evil victimizers and oppressors of others (of women and of black people, mostly, but of other groups, too, of course). It’s not their individual deeds that make white males automatically-guilty victimizers and oppressors, but their mere membership within the group of white males, you see.

This is the sorry state of affairs even though the origin of “p.c. culture” was the fact that white men were pushing too many others into a corner due to those others’ immutable differences from white men, and pushing others into a corner based upon their immutable differences from oneself is a bad thing to do.

To such a large degree, the victims (well, in so many cases, the “victims”) have become the victimizers, and today the victims don’t even have to be actual victims to call themselves victims, and their actual victimization of others isn’t victimization because they are victims, and a victim cannot also be a victimizer, you see.

Get it? These are the new rules.

These new rules have got to go.

Jonathan Chait got it (mostly) right, which is why we’ve seen the reaction to him that we’ve seen.

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The Ides of October

Herman Cain has proposed a so-called "9-9-9" tax plan that would tax people, businesses and sales at a flat nine percent

AFP photo

Maybe “666” wasn’t the best photo op after all… (I mean, it’s pretty pathetic when Michele Bachmann is shown to maybe have been correct about anything.) Anyway, Repugnican Tea Party presidential wannabe Herman Cain has been accused of having sexually harassed at least two women while on the job. Why do I tend to believe that he is guilty as charged? 

So last night I saw the George Clooney political movie “The Ides of March,” which is about how a good old-fashioned sex scandal can bring down a presidential campaign. (While not as good as Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Ides of March” is watchable.)

And then, later last night, I saw the headlines that top-tier Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidate Herman Cain has been accused of having been accused of sexual harassment at least twice in the mid- to late 1990s when he was the top dog of the National Restaurant Association.*

Wow. What timing.

Of course the Cain campaign vehemently denies that Cain ever sexually harassed anyone. (Cain — who, for some fucking reason, many people actually claim is a good speakereven asked a POLICITO reporter who had asked him about the sexual harassment allegations if he [the reporter] had ever been accused of sexual harassment. Yeah, very presidential.)  

While I believe that even a wingnutty scumbag like Cain is (at least more or less) innocent until proven otherwise, the thing is, I still believe Anita Hill, and it looks as though we have another Clarence-Thomas-type of scandal unfolding right about now.

More locally, when he was running in the bullshit do-over California gubernatorial election of 2003, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of having sexually harassed — even sexually assaulted — several women during his years in Hollywood. The Schwarzenegger campaign essentially called all of these women liars. Maria Shriver of the Democratic Kennedy dynasty publicly stated that she stood by her Repugnican man, which helped Schwarzenegger to usurp the governorship from the duly re-elected Democratic governor, Gray Davis.

Then, after his governorship ended in January of this year, Schwarzenegger in May admitted, after he’d been outed by the Los Angeles Times, that he had knocked up his housekeeper and that she had borne his son in 1997. Obviously, had the state’s voters known this juicy fact in 2003, they never would have voted for Schwarzenegger in the Repugnican-orchestrated gubernatorial recall election, and Maria Shriver, understandably, is keeping a very low profile here in California these days.

Gee, if he knocked up his housekeeper, do you think that Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger may actually have sexually harassed all of those (other) women after all?

It all boils down to this, methinks: Men who woefully mistakenly believe that they are qualified for high political office, such as the presidency or the governor of the nation’s most populous state, even when they never have held any elected office before — and both Cain and Schwarzenegger fit this description — obviously have issues with power.

Politics is the exercise of power, as is sexual harassment. (Many of us don’t like to talk about issues of power, which is why sex, politics and religion, which are so interchangeable and which all have to do with the exercise of power, are such taboo topics even though they probably are the most important topics that we possibly could discuss.)

Do I know that Herman Cain is guilty as charged? No. I wasn’t there. But if I had to bet a large sum of money on it, which way would I go?

I’d bet that Herman Cain is another Clarence Thomas.

And it’s a slap in the faces of all women to automatically call any woman a liar when she reports sexual harassment — especially when most of the time such allegations turn out to be quite true.

And after the likes of Clarence Thomas and Arnold Schwarzenegger, do we really want to get punk’d again by another sexual harasser, a man who has demonstrated that he cannot wield his personal (political) power responsibly?

*The website POLITICO broke the story, reporting:

During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm to POLITICO.

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.

In a series of comments over the past 10 days, Cain and his campaign repeatedly declined to respond directly about whether he ever faced allegations of sexual harassment at the restaurant association. They have also declined to address questions about specific reporting confirming that there were financial settlements in two cases in which women leveled complaints.

POLITICO has confirmed the identities of the two female restaurant association employees who complained about Cain but, for privacy concerns, is not publishing their names. … [Full story here.]

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Save us from the new ‘feminists’!

Nancy Pelosi

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Associated Press photos

“Democratic” U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman Schultz are coming for your balls (or ovaries…) next!

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner wisely has decided to take a timeout from “Weinergate,” requesting a leave of absence from the U.S. House of Representatives.

He claims that he is going into treatment, although for what, exactly, I am not sure. Treatment for sex addiction, that is, for sexually compulsive behavior that has disrupted his life? Treatment for the 46-year-old’s apparent midlife crisis, as evidenced by the fact that he even took a picture of his toned and depilated chest — and by the fact that he even depilated his chest in the first place? 

In any event, whether Weiner truly believes that he needs treatment for something or not, it’s a great political move, whether it was intended to be a great political move or not, because now those who are calling for his resignation appear to be self-righteous assbites who are attacking a man who only wants to overcome his problem(s).

Sadly and pathetically, these self-righteous assbites aren’t only members of the treasonous Repugnican Tea Party.

The other day I remarked that

… I don’t expect the spineless Democrats in D.C. to support the now-politically-radioactive Weiner — and that’s how most politicians are, of course: they’re your “friends” only if they perceive it still to be in their best personal political interests — and without the support of his fellow Democrats in D.C., I don’t know if Weiner can politically survive being frozen out of his own party, even if he strives to survive politically.

and

… for the Democrats to cave into this kind of sexual blackmail — instead of fighting back and changing the game instead of playing along with the wingnuts’ game – is yet another example of the spectacular spinelessness and political ineptitude that we’ve come to know and loathe about the Democratic Party.

Am I prophetic or what?

I wrote those words before Democratic Party House leader Nancy Pelosi — whom all of us everywhere on the political spectrum are pretty fucking sick and tired of, I think — and new Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who, up to now, I’ve kinda liked) both publicly expressed their belief that Weiner should resign.

Problem is, in a recent poll, 56 percent of Weiner’s constituents said that he should not resign.

So whose best interests are the likes of Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz looking out for? Their own, perhaps?

Is this the new “feminism,” in which self-proclaimed “feminists” cooperate with and enable the hypocritical right wing in its attempt to shame others over the fact that they are sexual beings?

By just giving the likes of wingnut Andrew Breitbart what he wants (Weiner’s head on a silver platter for Breitbart’s own petty ego), are “feminists” like Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz helping the cause of sexual liberation for everyone, for men as well as for women, or are they only aiding and abetting the sexually hypocritical right wing because they are lazy, self-serving cowards who just want to do the most politically expedient thing, which is to excommunicate Weiner?

Perhaps more to the point: Does Nancy Pelosi want every American male to be castrated? I mean, I generally have opposed the right wing’s attacks on her as being misogynist in spirit, but now I’m starting to wonder about the woman.

This is the deal: Anthony Weiner has not been accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual battery. He has not been accused of having sexually forced himself on anyone, in person or via cyberspace. He has acknowledged that he has had some consensually sexually oriented communications with several women, even after he got married. He claims that he has not had physical sexual contact with these women, and there is no evidence to contradict this claim.

What has happened is that some of these sexually oriented communications of his were made public for some petty wingnuts’ petty political gain. In my book, his privacy has been violated. (I reject the claim that elected officials are not entitled to any privacy. Perhaps legally their right to privacy is diminished, but morally and ethically, in my view, they have as much a right to privacy as does anyone else.)

If Weiner has wronged anyone, I suppose, he has wronged his wife — but that’s between him and his wife. And for all we know, they have an open marriage. We don’t know. It’s their marriage. Not ours. Not any of our fucking business.

But sanctimonious types like Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz, by stupidly calling for Weiner’s resignation instead of just keeping their mouths shut — which almost always is an option, by the way — are only making it not only possible, but more likely that bottom-feeders like the blackmailing Andrew Breitbart will try to destroy the careers of progressive politicians by searching everywhere and anywhere for any salacious dirt on them.

We owe it, in fairness, to Weiner and to everyone accused of sexual impropriety to look at exactly what the allegations are and to proceed only from such a careful examination. To recap some fairly recent U.S. House of Representatives sex scandals that resulted in resignations:

  • Repugnican Rep. Mark Foley resigned in September 2006 after it was alleged that he had sent sexually explicit messages to underaged male congressional pages. So the main problem here (besides Foley’s apparent then-closetedness [he reportedly is out of the closet now, by the way]) is that the alleged victims were underaged and that a U.S. representative apparently was greatly abusing his power over his much less powerful staffers. It is reasonable to expect a U.S. representative who has sexually harassed any of his or her staffers to resign or to be expelled from the House.
  • Democratic Rep. Eric Massa resigned in March 2010 after it was alleged that he had sexually harrassed at least one male staffer. Massa reportedly used sexually charged language with his male staffer or staffers (he copped to having used “salty” language from his Navy days) and apparently he thought it appropriate to continuously tickle at least one male staffer on at least one occasion. (A supervisor just doesn’t tickle or otherwise prolongedly touch his or her supervisees.) The problem here, again, is that of (apparent/alleged) sexual harassment, compounded by the fact of the power differential between the accused and his alleged victim(s).
  • Repugnican Rep. Christopher Lee resigned in February 2011 after it was revealed that he’d sent a shirtless pic of himself to a woman (a male-to-female transsexual?) whom he was trying to pick up on Craigslist. (The woman [MTF?] herself outed Lee to the sleazy website Gawker, and Lee resigned the same day that Gawker ran the story.) Besides sending the sexually charged (but not X-rated) image of himself, the heterosexually married Lee apparently also lied about his marital status. While creepy, as I noted at the time, Lee apparently was guilty of no more than attempted infidelity and being in the grip of a midlife crisis. He was not accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual battery. Therefore, as I noted at the time, I don’t see that his resignation was called for, and I still see the matter as having been between him and his wife.

So the dog-piling upon Weiner seems to come primarily from the belief that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives may not be sexual outside of (heterosexual, of course) marriage — because sex is dirty, sex is wrong, sex is sinful, etc., and a member of the “lofty” U.S. House of Representatives just should not be acting in any way that is sexual, because sex is only for animals — and for unhappily but dutifilly married heterosexual couples.

Meanwhile, it’s widely considered perfectly OK for fucktarded, wingnutty U.S. representatives like Repugnican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to do such things as to announce in Iraq that Iraq should repay the United States for the cost of the unelected Bush regime’s illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War.* (Of course, “unelected,” “illegal,” “immoral,” etc. are my words, not his.)

Now, I find it much more reprehensible that a textbook stupid white man like Dana Rohrabacher would be in another nation making foreign-policy pronouncements for the United States of America as though he had been elected fucking president than I find it reprehensible that Anthony Weiner apparently is going through a midlife crisis a la former Rep. Christopher Lee.

The actions of Rohrabacher and his ilk at least border on treason if they don’t actually cross the line into treasonous territory, yet they are not so much as slapped on the wrist. Weiner has only offended some sexually repressed hypocrites’ sensibilities — boo fucking hoo! — and yet there are calls for his resignation.

And it’s sad and pathetic to hear those calls coming from self-professed feminists**, who spit on the grave of the actual feminists who actually fought for sexual freedom for women. Because the so-called “feminists” who are calling for Weiner’s resignation aren’t advancing the sexual freedom of women, but are diminishing the sexual freedom of all of us because they enable the sexually hypocritical right wing to use our sexuality against us.

Shame on them.

P.S. My defense of Weiner as of late extends only to “Weinergate.” I do not agree with him on every issue, such as his ass-licking of Israel. Like way too many Jewish (and non-Jewish) members of Congress, he is unable to be anything even remotely like fair and evenhanded where it comes to Israel, which can do no wrong and is never guilty of terrorism or any other crime against humanity, even though the angelic Israelis have slaughtered far more innocent Arabs than vice-versa since the state of Israel woefully misguidedly was imposed upon the Middle East in the aftermath of World War II.

*Iraq asked Rohrabacher and his contingent to leave because of Rohrabacher’s incredibly fucktarded remarks, which reportedly included, “Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country… we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years.”

Gee, I don’t recall that Iraqis ever asked for the March 2003 invasion of their soverign nation that the United Nations Security Council had refused to rubber stamp for the Bush regime and that has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

**Not just to pick on Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz (and some other “feminist” women in Congress, such as Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, the very first House “Democrat” to stupidly publicly call for Weiner’s resignation), because I’ve also seen so-called “progressive”/“feminist” women writers also dog-pile upon Weiner, including one who apparently believes that it’s up to her to decide whether or not another woman has been sexually harassed (novel!).

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