Condescension as bigotry

Freedom’s Zone reminded me that it’s time to revisit an issue that always gets my goat, which is liberal bigotry. Tavis Smiley, the African-American media personality who has a PBS gig, was the person selected to moderate the most recent Democratic debate, this one held in front of a majority black audience. Smiley decided that, because the audience was black, it was incapable of complying with ordinary rules governing those lucky (or, perhaps, unlucky) enough to attend a debate:

The moderator of Thursday’s Democrat presidential debate said he did not ask the mostly black audience to refrain from applauding candidates’ answers, because blacks are too “emotional” to obey such a rule.

Asked by C-Span host Brian Lamb why he didn’t enforce a no-applause rule for his PBS-sponsored debate like other debate formats, moderator Tavis Smiley explained: “Because black people are an emotional people. I know it wouldn’t have worked.”

Smiley says the black audience attending the 90-minute session at Howard University would not have listened or complied with such a request for silence, suggesting African-Americans are unable to control themselves.

Thomas Lifson, pointing to this story, noted that

The implications of Smiley’s assertions are mind-boggling. Blacks, unlike others, cannot be relied upon to respond as adults, in Smiley’s formulation. All sorts of invidious discrimination is justified, if Smiley’s assertion is to be believed.

Mind-boggling? Absolutely. What’s galling, and should be infinitely more galling to the African-American community, is that this soft bigotry permeates white liberal thinking. To your average white liberal, the black race is inferior to the white race. Don’t believe me? How about a couple of examples:

The first example of liberal bigotry that always pops into my head when I touch this subject — perhaps because it was when I suddenly realized that condescension can be a form of racism — is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots and was later acquitted. In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” I believe that, had the speaker been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement would have been held up by the liberal establishment as the most disgusting, horrific, vile statement ever. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place.

The next example, of course, is the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.

Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the Press was perfectly ready to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly begin reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)

Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)

Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.

Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other races. Smiley, although talking about cheering and applauding, rather than assault and cannibalism, also attributes a infantile level of self-control to African-Americans.

Incidentally, Smiley’s assertion about black emotionalism is racism pure and simple. That is, while I know that liberals excusing bad behavior would say that they’re not racists, because it’s white people’s fault that blacks have been forced into situations where they’ve lost sight of societal norms, Smiley doesn’t have that excuse. He thinks it’s a virtue, not a white-imposed fault, that African-Americans cannot follow a rule asking that audience members sit quietly so that a debate can proceed unimpeded. And yes, I know Smiley wouldn’t consider his belief racism, because he’s not attributing a negative quality to blacks — rudeness — but a positive quality — “emotionalism.” I think they’re two sides of the same coin, and that it’s racist.

As for me, I think that, whether you excuse blacks because they black, or excuse blacks because whites are institutional bullies, excusing blacks still infantilizes a whole race. Unlike the oh-so-sympathetic liberals, both black and white, I believe that blacks, in common with all adult human beings, are intelligent, moral, reasoning creatures. Whatever the hardships visited on them, they are higher beings, not dogs or babies, and all right thinking people should expect them have the ability to conform to to minimum norms of civilized behavior. As Robert Browning said more than a hundred years before, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?” Babies and dogs don’t reach for the stars, but all adults can and should.


15 Responses

  1. Condescension as Bigotry

    It’s the liberal standard. Everything is a one way street, nothing they do is wrong, and excuses are freely accepted.

  2. Pretty much the entire liberal “racial project” is informed by racism of the most blatant and patronizing sort.

    Consider education: it’s _perfectly all right_ to teach black children entertaining lies in school. Cleopatra was black, the Greeks “stole” civilization from (black) Egypt, etc.

    Why? Because they’re just black kids, after all. They won’t need a _real_ education like the kids of affluent white liberals. Far better to feed them some comforting garbage until they’re old enough to go on welfare.

  3. Reverse racism by whites is actually pretty similar to what the Soviets used concerning their useful idiots.

    This informs their ability to treat terrorists as well, including Iraqis. They expect Iraqis not to do any better because they’re not white liberals, and they actually support Bush in some ways. Nobody that is truly superior, Book, could ever support Bush in the Leftist viewpoint. PillowC is ready to rule, because like all aristos they believe they and only they are worthy of the power.

  4. Back in the late 60’s I worked with a few others on a project to expand awareness among whites of the challenges faced by blacks. We placed ten or twelve white executives of large corporations at a time with families in Harlem where, for five days, they lived, ate and worked with their black hosts.

    Without exception, they returned shaken to their core, and invariably their first reaction was “How can we help?” — meaning, “What can we do in the black community to help?” The answer from the black leaders with whom we worked was, invariably, “Go work among whites to change their attitudes and behavior. Let us take care of ourselves.”

    It appears that liberals have either never heard or have discounted this advice. They do not seem to understand that racism is not eliminated by setting lower standards for or conferring special benefits on its victims. Racism is eliminated by patiently — and compassionately — working with its perpetrators to help change their thinking.

  5. During that very debate, asked about the problem of AIDS in the black community, good ol’ Joe Biden said words to the effect (can’t quote precisely) that the white community hadn’t done a good enough job of educating the black community, and was going to have to do better.

    The thing that’s a little disheartening is that while it’s perfectly normal for Biden to put his foot in his mouth up to the hip, the entire audience applauded. They thought it was great – not one person in the room, including Smiley, recognized that their entire community, in fact their entire race, had just been insulted.

    Biden had just told them they were too dumb to figure it out on their own, and the white race hadn’t held up its end of the bargain by caring for dem po’ simple folk. And they thought it was terrific! Standing O for Joe!

    Occasionally I’m amazed.

  6. follow this link.

  7. “The fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves…”
    Maybe teaching more Shakespear would help.
    It’s the difference between independence and dependence. Between freedom and slavery. Every time a lib says “You can’t do that.”, they put a yoke around your neck, or someone else’s. It is yet another proof that Liberals are unmatched in their unbelievable thirst for power.
    Regular listeners to Rush Limbaugh will know that calls like JJ linked to happen with regularity.
    Happy Independence Day.

  8. MY education on this issue came as a student in the 1970s, when a terrific part-black, part-Hispanic girl that I knew from Gary, Indiana used to study with me in our pre-med program at a major Big-10 University.

    She enlightened me on how the Liberal/Left university establishment hounded her day-in, day-out to forget about medicine and instead consider becoming a teacher or social worker. Eventually, they ground her down and she dropped out of school. This defined Liberal/Left racism for me – I never forgave them for that.

  9. […] Bookworm Room, “Condescension As Bigotry” […]

  10. […] 2. 1 1/3 With Snark Done With Mirrors 3. 1 1/3 This I Believe The Education Wonks 4. 1 1/3 Condescension As Bigotry Bookworm Room 5. 1 1/3 Quote of the Day: Islamophobia Edition Cheat Seeking […]

  11. Background on Reginald Denny:
    Reginald Oliver Denny is born on January 22, 1956 in Lansing, Michigan.
    Shelley Roseanne Montez (Reginald Oliver Denny’s ex-wife and now married to Christopher Coppel in London, England) was born on August 12, 1962 in Los Angeles County in California.
    Ashley Rose Denny (Reginald Oliver Denny’s daughter) was born on June 14, 1992 in Stanislaus County in California
    Reginald Oliver Denny and Shelley Roseanne Montez got married in Clark County, Nevada on February 14, 1982. Unfortunately, they got divorced four years later, and Reginald Denny is now living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

  12. Nice post. One thing, i’m running Win 7 with the Firefox 4 Beta browser and your columns are overlapping a little. Though you may want to fix it 🙂

  13. Please help:
    I want to know if Reginald Oliver Denny’s parents are still alive and I want to know about his ancestry. People from Michigan and California, should help me and they should be related to Reginald Denny! Thank you!

  14. If anyone want to share the information about the parents and grandparents of Reginald Oliver Denny, please do. If anyone does not want to, that is fine with me and Denny himself drops out of sight.

  15. Reginald Oliver Denny is the Greta Garbo of the Los Angeles riots.

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