"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this & that

Finally, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Yale graduate student Annie Le and her fiance, whom she was to have married on Sunday. Just as he was on that horrible day eight years ago (when he dismissed our seminar by saying, "This is no time to talk about the Cold War"), John Gaddis knew exactly the right thing to say.


Blogger euphrony said...

Regarding the charges that the lack of civility in the health care debate has a lot to do with race - I wonder if it could not be something else, instead. Oh, to be sure, there are plenty of people who wouldn't trust the first thing any black man, much less one in power, had to say. And the accusations are plain idiotic - have you seen that some are saying Michelle Obama used to be a man? Insane.

But I wonder if, on some level, the partisan political atmosphere is not sinking in to a deeper, more basic hatred. I'm thinking something akin to Catholic vs. Protestant in Northern Ireland. There is obviously a willingness to buy in to such a primal opposition, which could also be explained by racial or other motivations. But I simply wonder if we are not seeing the devolution into ideological factions that have lost capacity for civil discourse.

Maybe I'm too naive or idealistic to believe that it comes down to race. I heard Juan Williams drop that on NPR on Friday, and just wondered if people are not looking for an easy explanation, and one that makes the fools look foolish to themselves as they try to defend both their ideological position and accusations of racism. It just seems like it is too easy of an answer, and potentially missing a whole lot more.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 9:25:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps, it's the new republic, not the national review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:27:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

D'oh! That'll teach me to put posts together in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:44:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Euphrony, I think you have a good point. Sometimes in the study of conflict between groups, the term "ethnicity" can encompass race, language, culture, and religion. So I could say, for example, that the reasons that Northern Ireland's Catholics and Protestants hated each other for so long are very similar to those that caused, say, Tutsis and Hutus to oppose one another. It's the same way of categorizing people, even though one is based on "tribal" identity and the other on religion. Does that make sense?

In this case, I think you have to look at what all these people have in common. They're of different religions and from different parts of the country, but the impression I'm getting is that they're almost universally white, and many are from the less-educated rungs of society with the accompanying lower income levels that go with lower education levels. Unfortunately, there's a high correlation between being uneducated and being racist, and certainly poor whites have the worst reputation on that issue. So maybe it could be lack of economic opportunity or an inability to evaluate the quality of sources that's driving this.

But that doesn't seem correct, because all of the other factors were in place before Obama took office, right? Why weren't they this mad at W, who certainly did more to screw over the poor than Obama has? Maybe the economic collapse made things worse, but that happened under Bush and everyone knows it. Why did this nasty ideological divide rear its ugly head now? The only remaining explanation of which I can think is that it's driven by the fury of a small number of people on the right who genuinely believed that the country would never elect a black man president and who are willing to say anything to discredit him.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:54:00 AM

Blogger dcat said...

Baie dankie for the link.

For me the race issue with Obama's enemies (and can they be described any other way?) comes down to Occum's Razor. Of course racism is at least a huge part of it.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009 3:48:00 PM


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