My take on the Patterico business

Posted: December 8, 2009 by datechguy in internet/free speech, opinion/news
Tags: , , ,

Ok my business of the day before is taken care of, I’ve had a night to think about it and read and re-read Patterico’s post and Robert Stacy’s posts on the subject.

I’ve read Patterico for a while and assume that there is nothing underlying between him and Robert. I have no reason to believe anything else and I’m certainly not going to conclude anything like that.

So lets hit this topic in sequence:

1. “When trying to persuade a group of people you use an argument that would persuade them, not insult them.”:

Looking at the document it appears to be an attempt to calm down a discussion that has gotten out of hand with people going overboard. The tone and the goal is clearly to persuade people who are: ” urging a return to Jim Crow or even advocating the formation of separate racial nations.” that this is incorrect and irrational.

Anyone who has been in an argument knows that people tend to go to extremes, if you doubt me check some of the flame wars online. Think of the times when you have hit “send” or “publish” when angry and regretted it and you will understand what I mean.

There are two ways to handle people like this:

You can affirm your own superiority by denouncing and calling names.

You can attempt to frame an argument that the person will understand and be able to agree with to take them off the ledge

It is clear that the later is the choice made. This is not only a laudable goal but it is consistant with Robert Stacy’s belief set for it is written…

I have become all things to all, to save at least some. 1 Corinthians 9:23b

…people are not a disposable commodity.

2. “A reasonable person reading the paragraph without the context could certainly conclude the author was racist.”

In fact I think a reasonable person would be hard pressed not to come to that conclusion. It is a statement bluntly about race, it talks about “natural revulsion” and directly makes a judgment on a suitability about a mate based on race. Out of context of course a person would make that conclusion in fact one might be hard pressed not to.

3. “A reasonable person reading it in context would conclude that the author is not racist.”

Speaking of out of context consider this:

Given this clip and nothing else once can certainly conclude that this movie should be banned and the filmmaker is a horrible racist. In fact the movie in question uses the world “Nigger” (I don’t do the N-word nonsense) 17 times! during the course of the film (according to wikipedia). A person who would put this out would have to be a horrible racist as would anyone who laughs at it!

By an odd coincidence the first (actual) black president talked about this very film and filmmaker very subject this week:

Unless you are very young or live under a rock you of course know that this is a scene from Blazing Saddles which is all about the foolishness of racism. If you have never seen it DO SO AT ONCE. It is one of the funniest movies you will ever watch.

Likewise with the essay in question Robert Stacy makes his intent clear at the start talking about the “discordant discussion of race relations” that he wishes to end.

He talks a bit about old histories (I like old history books) and the southern perspective and correctly calls out us of the north who talk a superior game but resulted in, as the author he quotes notes:

the largest segregated Negro community in the world. As one spokesman has paraphrased it, the result of all the egalitarian outpouring … is that no white man or woman will live in Harlem under any circumstances.

and furthermore the two faced attitude of the elites who…

as soon as Harlem’s bulging population began to spill over in a downtown direction, out of the way fled these same professors to restricted neighborhoods where their children could be enrolled in allwhite schools.”

One of the prejudices that exists here up north is superiority to the south. It took me years to recognize that prejudice not only it in myself but the racism both condescending and blatant around me toward blacks that said prejudice is used to legitimize and excuse.

He talks about the difference in pride in one self and dissing others, or as this exchange between Captain Kirk, Uhura and Abe Lincoln taught us:

LINCOLN: What a charming negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.
UHURA: But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we’ve learned not to fear words.
KIRK: May I present our communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura.
LINCOLN: The foolishness of my century had me apologising where no offense was given.
KIRK: We’ve each learned to be delighted with what we are.

I take pride in my Sicilian, Catholic background and I equally expect any person I meet to take pride in whatever background they have. That is equality. Kirk has it exactly right.

He notes the difference between the definition of “better racial relations” in the context of his friendly interaction with a black acquaintance on race relations noting how a double standard seems to apply on attitudes.

His one act play is ironically an excellent explanation of the tactics and results of the 2008 democratic party caucus’.

Taken in context it makes an argument that the tactics and unequal application used has radicalized the radicals and that the people he is talking too should not take the bait to radicalize themselves. This is clearly not only not racist but endeavors to prevent actions that would be.

Ironically in my son’s Honor’s English course they are reading a series of “banned books” and the next one is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which is also an attack on Racism but people who cheer Mel Brooks fight to ban it. Funny that.

4. Although the statement in context is not racist, he is incorrect to when he says THIS IS NOT RACISM.

Having established that the document itself is not racist lets take a look at the key statement in context:

the media now force interracial images into the public mind and a number of perfectly rational people react to these images with an altogether natural revulsion. The white person who does not mind transacting business with a black bank clerk may yet be averse to accepting the clerk as his sisterinlaw, and THIS IS NOT RACISM, no matter what Madison Avenue, Hollywood and Washington tell us.

I have to disagree given the information. The only bounds given is that the bank clerk is black. She is generic, no family, no religion, no looks, no other knowledge context at all. Since the only context given is a racial one the statement that the person “may yet be adverse to accepting the clerk as his sister-in-law” not only describes racism, but it can’t describe anything else because the only criteria is racism.

Nor does the fact that many blacks might have an equal aversion in the opposite direction. Given a context strictly of race those black attitudes given are by definition examples of racism because they are:

1. preconceived judgment or opinion: (definition of prejudice 2a)

2. racial in nature: (definition of racism entry 2)

Now in the context of “tribalism” (which he touches on in current posts) people gravitating to the similar in culture, one might look at that differently but no such context exists in the document so I can’t judge it in that fashion.

One’s desired mate for one’s family is based largely upon what you have seen and how you are taught. For me the ideal wife for my sons is a Catholic girl , either of Italian American descent or actually Italian, who as closely as possible resembles my mother in attitude and my dentist in looks. (My dentist is the single most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I’ve seen Sarah Palin up close. She is Sophia Loren beautiful, a living rule 5 entry. By an odd coincidence the dentist who took out my youngest son’s wisdom teeth on Friday is as my wife describes him a “hot surfer hunk”… We don’t miss many appointments.) My mother’s ideal for me was pretty much the same as mine for my kids without the dentist.

Neither are statements of racism but it might be called tribalism as for results I ended up with a (formally) weak Catholic who has many of the qualities my mother loves but is Dutch, Polish, Scotch, Irish, Sioux Indian and at least one or two other things mixed in. I’ve been married 21 years, and defy anyone to find a woman who would have made me a better wife. I’m extremely lucky. Oh and my mother absolutely adores her.

On a similar note my next door neighbor is a single black woman with two daughters one of which is my son’s age. The girl is beautiful, polite, her mother is a good neighbor and a nice woman. He hasn’t made a move (you fool!) and I don’t know if she’s available but if he ended up with her I would most certainly approve.

This explains the dangers of treating people generically, words mean things, Robert Stacy’s words meant a particular thing, therefore it would be an example of racism. Clarification In case it wasn’t clear what I meant by the previous sentence the “example” refers to the specific example described by the words, not the words themselves.

5. Now my final point:

There is no basis that the attitude in the example he uses is HIS attitude and no fair reading of the document can say it is.

Not only is that the case but we have the testimony of person after person who know and have personally associated with Mr. McCain on a semi regular basis concerning his racial attitudes. I am very comfortable with him as my friend and I suspect that the others feel the same.

An acquaintance or friend who did have an issue would most properly contact him directly on the issue to sound him out on it. I don’t know of any personal relationship between Patterico and Robert Stacy but absent any such relationship and given the discussion on the topic recently that was big news in the sphere it was not an inappropriate post, in fact it was in the style of other posts he has done in the past so I don’t have any beef with it.

That the post has hijacked my topic for the day and cost me 3 hours of writing on the subject is a bit of a pain but I think a lesser document would not have been proper.

And one bit of full disclosure as I close, I dropped Robert Stacy a line this morning as I started this post giving him the headings of each section. I have called him friend and as his friend there is no way I was going to totally blindside him on what I was going to write. You can take that as you will, but that’s what friends do.

Update: I should add this has been murder on my hits today since I’ve posted on nothing else, I’ll try to get more stuff up this afternoon but I have a busy day ahead and this took a lot of my writing out of me.

Update 2: I was so intent on my own writing I didn’t see update here, here and here at Patterico.

Full marks to Patterico for giving posting rights to a reply by Dafydd ab Hugh, that is called class and respect and honorable debate, maybe he can give lessons to a certain once regularly instalanced blogger.

Update 3: A second post on the subject is here.

  1. kahall says:

    You covered a lot in this. I read McCain every day now since he was falsely accused and was not aware of him before that. So there is that. My favorite line/scene from Blazing Saddles and I’m not sure if the quote is exact but “Someone is going to have to go back and get a $h!t load of dimes.”

  2. PatHMV says:

    This is a fine post, but I wish you would suggest to your friend RSM that he address the substance of these concerns more directly and with less attitude, for want of a better word. His actual response is to attack all who criticize him. I realize that would rather go against what appears to be his “wolverine” nature, but it would go a long way, I think. Although to be honest I will likely continue to hold him in not terribly high regard simply because of his relentless efforts to defend the indefensible Confederacy. That it was not uniquely bad, that the north was also in the wrong on racial issues, etc., etc. is no defense of the actual practices of the south.

  3. harkin says:

    My favorite quote is when Cleavon Little picks up the shovel and just says ‘unh uh baby’ – in the context of the films it’s hilarious.

    Oh yeah – GREAT post on RSM

  4. […] In my reading of his posts he has not called Robert Stacy a Racist (and I disagree with his take on the statement in context) or anything else but does press for the answer one way or the […]