with John McWhorter
It often seems like race is a magnifying glass that exaggerates the emotional aspect of any interracial interaction. Did we have a nice quick chat in line at the grocery store? Better for me if you’re black, I do feel better about it to be honest. And you two are celebrities now …sort of. So you have that working against you as well. Anyway: keep up the good work!
I couldn't resist putting this personal story out there. I'll try to be as nondescript as possible.
Many, MANY years ago, when I was a proud Black Republican, I attended a luncheon with fellow Black Republicans; who, frankly, were always more loyal to the party than I was.
The main speaker at this event was a US Congressman--White, middle-age, not very well-known nationally--who decided to open his speech with a joke, presumably to loosen up the crowd. Not a problem, right?
Anyway, this man proceeds to tell a joke about a criminal attempting to negotiate his way out of a hanging.
I honestly don't recall the specifics about the joke, probably because I hit a mental pause button the second I heard this man utter something about a hanging.
In fairness, I don't think *he* was thinking "race" at the time. If I *had* to guess, the characters in his joke, in *his* mind, were probably all White. But who the hell knows? That's really neither here nor there.
The idea that a sitting US Congressman had no problem telling a joke about a hanging--at the start of his keynote speech, no less--spoke volumes about a certain faction within the GOP.
I will never forget "our" reactions in that moment. We were (mostly) seated at the same two or three tables. We started looking at each other and whispering; our facial expressions were LOUD:
"Is this guy seriously telling a joke about hanging?"
The answer was yes.
It reminded me of something I already knew: Just because two people share a party label doesn't mean they share the same values or perspectives.
This was the 90s. But this Congressman was obviously not a Jack Kemp Republican.
No, no, no. When conversations with White Conservatives go wrong? No!
What John & Glenn describe here is not that... nor is the problem rooted in either the individual's skin color or presumed political allegiances. The problem is not 'when conversations with White Conservatives go wrong', it's when we have conversations with idiots and assholes. Not to put too fine a point on it.
As Glenn himself said, such conversations (and much more typically they're monologues and not dialogues) are "the result of social ineptitude, clumsiness, and mild ignorance." And I susupect he's being nice.
Based on my own experience, such unfortunate interludes are the result of the Other (whatever social, racial, cultural, educational, experiential categories they happen to fill) believing themselves to be much brighter, much more perspicacious, much wiser than they actually are....while simultaneously believing you to be a naif (untutored, less-experienced, clearly not as wise, and badly in need of in the keen & piercing insight the Other KNOWS they can provide). God save us!
Such conversations are always painful -- regardless of whether it's 'Craig Husock' or 'that one guy' who's always somehow at your elbow at the neighborhood get together, or the woman who shows-up at every HOA meeting, or or or or. These people are not limited to Cringe Moments with White Conservatives. I wish they were, they'd be easier to avoid. They're everywhere.
And...truthfully...if we're honest with ourselves....sometimes We is They. As Prof. Pogo himself sagely observed, "We have met the enemy and he is us!" Sometimes, God forbid, WE are That Guy. Sometimes it's our voice we hear rattling around the room....and we then, if we're honest, we take a deep breath: "And you may ask yourself, "Am I right, am I wrong?" And you may say to yourself, "My God, what have I done?"
Next time, we say, we'll do better. Next time we'll be a bit more self-aware. Next time, maybe we'll really try to listen more and talk less. Next time, maybe. But in the meantime, God, please keep all the earnestly obnoxious 'Craigs' as far away as possible ...regardless of skin color, politics, college program, age, size, sex, etc. ... because none of that really matters... what matters is the idiocy which burbles forth.
Next up: what Glenn and John find annoying about white independents.
It's pathetic that anyone with common sense views on race, policing, etc. is considered "conservative" these days. It's one topic of dozens on the political spectrum. Glenn might consider himself conservative, but definitely not John, nor Coleman Hughes, Adolph Reed, Cornell West, Bill Maher, etc. and so many others who are making similar points. Note the tone between current mayors and the speech that Philadelphia Democratic Michael Nutter gave concerning flash mobs a few short years ago (gets into it about 8 mins in): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXwCOcBjpbg
When you see yourself in a discussion in spite of your best efforts.... :-)
I read text transcript, rather than listen to audio. Thank you. Liberals and conservatives are somewhat destined to err in their respective directions with Group X. X is whichever group activists choose to target as victims of propagandized grievance. I’m so glad the activists have forgotten about us gays. Let’s keep it that way.
In most situations, we are not going to change the political positions of others. We agree to disagree. Our disagreements can remain civil.
Group identity creates all manner of problems for us. oth, stereotypes are necessary and generally useful when referring to groups. “Blacks vote Democrat” is useful if you are developing a political strategy but it is dangerous if you are trying to develop a relationship with Reggie because Reggie is an individual and not a group. We really need to learn to deal with individuals; they are much more interesting than groups.
You should consider directing them to the Walter Williams “Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon”
The problem is exacerbated by Conservative/ Republican policies that are seen as specifically targeting the Black community in a negative way. The rhetoric from Republican Party leaders is frequently off putting.
I seek no absolution for the sins I did not commit. With metaphysical certitude, I look only to my lord and savior for forgiveness.
Absolution or affirmation?
In any case, it quickly gets tiresome to ask from a person just because that person is black--both for yourself and the person asked. Seek affirmation from someone who is knowledgeable and wise. Seek absolution from someone you have wronged.
This is a difficult issue, because it's very human to over-generalize. "White conservatives" is a generalization that characterizes many individuals unjustly. Similarly, some people use the category "black person" [or some obnoxious synonym] as a generalized pejorative label. Rudyard Kipling wrote about "the white man's burden". President Woodrow Wilson, that Progressive icon, was no better. It's the way people are and probably will continue to be.
We could use a few more discussions on this topic, particularly with regard to people whose last names rhyme with Fax and Flurry. But that's just my humble opinion.
A sincere "Thank You" to Glenn and John. I certainly understand Craig. They may not be able to forgive me, but they can at least help me from coming across as an ass in the future ;-)