Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wherein I Disagree with JL Wilson

It had to happen sooner or later. The erudite and interesting JL Wilson gets something dead wrong at long last. In this post about bigotry and sexism aimed at candidates (http://independentcountry.blogspot.com/2008/05/hating-hillary.html), he opines that you can make sexist wisecracks about Clinton without being a sexist. You could love all other women with all your heart and still call a woman that you dsilike a c**t without being sexist at all. By that logic, you could call Al Sharpton a n****r and nonetheless profess love for every other black person on earth.

I know where James is coming from. I've felt this way myself at times. I used to think Jews were ok except for those really Jewy Jews going on all the time about their Jewishness, wearing their beanies and working on kibbutzim in the summers. Then it dawned on me that this meant that I tolerated only those Jews who concealed or downplayed their Jewishness and that I probably had issues with anti-Semitism. If a Jew has to be more or less like a Methodist for me to accept him, then I've got a problem with Jews. Period. I've gotten over this, by the way, but having had the experience helps me to comment on the post.

I know folks who have a similar attitude about gay people. Gays are ok as long as they don't let anyone know they're gay, you see. And black folks had better not act all black. And women had better not be all uppity and feminist. It doesn't mean you don't like gays and women just because you want them to be subordinate and quiet, does it? Why, yes, it does.

A couple of other quibbles with James's post are: (1) if Alan Dershowitz is ever a serious candidate for president, anti-Semitic comments about him would be the least of our worries; (2) Joe Lieberman is as Jewy as Dershowitz and almost as big a douchebag, but their douchebaggery is independent of their Judaism, ie they would still be douchebags if they werre Baptists; (3) Elizabeth Dole would not have been the victim of sexist attacks because she would have been a GOP candidate, and sexist attacks mostly come from the GOP where sexism is de rigeur; (4) GW Bush was never likeable and was an obvious douche from the moment he appeared as a candidate except to the sizeable minority of dupes who voted for him and who were clearly not paying attention or were drunk; (5) his election and re-election are testaments to the stupidity of my countrymen and the unlikeability of John Kerry; (6) Al Sharpton is an in your face New Yorker, and it is acceptable to dislike him for those characteristics, not for being an uppity Negro.

My father has this kind of attitude about Jesse Jackson. He can't stand the guy, and he reckons it's OK to use racial slurs against him. It's not his blackness that makes Jesse Jackson contemptible to my father (at least I hope not), so I reckon he should call Jackson out for his opportunism and whatever other traits, which are independent of his race, and lay off the racial slurs.

I suspect that James was trying to say that it is permissible to criticize people of various races, genders, and other categories without hating everyone in the damned category. But you should do so in terms that do not relate to the category. I can't stand Liebermann, but not because he's a Jew, so I don't call him "that slimy Jew bastard" or "that beanie wearing, genital mutilating piece of shit" when I discuss him. I'm not crazy about JS McCain, but not because he's a Catholic or of Irish ancestry, so I don't speak of him as a "bog jumping, potato eating, mackeral snatching crapbag". If I did use such language, I would be casting aspersions on the whole category not the least by reminding Jews that Liebermann is one of theirs and Irish Catholics that McCain is one of theirs, something that the respective categories have no control over.


b-psycho said...

re: your "really jewy jews" story:

Oddly enough, if I apply your standard, I have a problem with virtually EVERY religion. Jews, muslims, christians...the whole lot.

Luckily for them -- and for all of us really -- that their outward discomfort to my cultural tastes pales in comparison to the atrocious things people have done throughout time in the name of religion. The more I think about it, the more I come to believe it's a psychological tie between the two that irks me in the first place. If all that religious people did was preach and occasionally dress funny I'd probably cease to see it as a big deal.

James Leroy Wilson said...

Nowhere in the post did I say such attacks were acceptable. I don't believe they are, but I don't think every use of some crude and offensive words is evidence of full-fledged bigotry.

I would read the linked-to article:
http://tinyurl.com/6ry8zc and ask if these insults hurled at Hillary are really evidence of "hatred for women" in general, or just hatred for Hillary.

I find the b-word offensive, but I simply can not believe that everyone who uses it hates women.

Vache Folle said...

I apologize if I left the impression that James believes the epitets are acceptable, but that was not my intent. I did read the linked to article and carried from it a very different interpretation, ie that the attacks on Hillary are indicia of a strain of misogyny in our society, the existence of which is not surprising.