See What Happens When I Post At A Liberal Blog? Part II, the crackdown

Thea (& Tuval)-

I did not call anyone an idiot. I did not call anyone names. Also, I have no association with ‘Tom’ and have no idea who he is. He is a random voice chiming in to tell you what he thought when he looked at this blog entry. He is obviously working from a stereotype in his head. I don’t know anything personally about Thea other than what she has written and imagine her to be a young, funny and intelligent person based on that. If I thought Thea were an idiot, I wouldn’t waste time writing her. Hopefully you will read this all the way through and come to understand me better. I am very glad for both of your responses, especially Tuvals; I find it rude and ineffective to give a teaching to anyone who does not ask for it. I will not address your points or questions in any particular order but I will address them all and hopefully give you some actual helpful advice. I am not going to tell you that it is worth anything more than you paid for it but I will say that its worth will only be found out if you try to heed it. 

It really isn’t presumptuous of me to think that someone would shut down a comments thread because of me; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened. I don’t curse or flare or engage in name-calling; generally I do exactly what I did on yours and your response was predictable: A restating of my comments in paraphrase until they no longer resembled themselves followed by a brief rebuttal of these new and improved comments concluding with a needless justification of one’s basic broad tenets and a general defense of the piece that implies that I have been gravely insulting. I was never trying to insult you; I was trying to get your attention. I believe I have it for the moment and that’s all I need it for. Please keep reading; on my honor no insult awaits.  

I have no objection to parsing pop culture for deeper meaning. As an artist I am supremely devoted to this endeavor; if you browse through my work this much must be obvious and true. I’m writing my autobiography as a comic book and it would be false humility to tell you that I think I’m as deep as the sky. I only confess this to convince you that I believe that pop culture can be a very worthy thing. I was not chiding you for writing about pop culture. I was chiding you for how you were writing about race. 

I appreciate that you have a point of view that has been formed by experience and education and I do not deny the validity of that viewpoint; what I was trying to point out to you is that it appears to me that your perspective has a blind spot that you need to address. I fully understand and try to always remember the proverb of the splinter and the plank, so I will confess to you that I know my own vision is not perfect and I do not see you whole and complete; but based on the essay I commented on and that alone, I believe you need to examine your point of view for fingerprints and smudges. At least check the focus.  I am writing to you from the trenches of the American Culture War. It is getting very ugly over here. Racism is boiling up to the surface in a way we haven’t seen in a generation. Racist rhetoric and right wing demagoguery are rampant. You obviously are very aware of this based on your experience with your message board.

My first piece of advice to you is to leave it up and mock the hell out of it. Laugh at them. Confuse them. Ignore them. If you have a particularly persistent troll you can always block them. But here’s the thing; if you are trying to make people aware of the ugliness of racism and sexism don’t hold back the best evidence you have: the actual statements of these troglodytes. I fully appreciate exactly how bad this stuff can get but I think you should be shameless and let people see the monsters you’re dealing with. Wear it like a badge. Fascists fear mockery. Secondly, it is common for the right wing to portray liberals as hysterical knee jerk crybabies trying to wring accusations of racism out of everything. If you want to write seriously about pop culture, then write seriously about it. For example; don’t accuse a prominent artist of being racist, sexist, or anything without even having seen the work that you are primarily condemning. It’s really sloppy. It’s also a favorite tactic of our mutual antagonists. Thirdly, if you use your personal life to make a political point you can’t be surprised when the feedback gets personal. Any analysis of racial matters that is serious enough to merit consideration shouldn’t rely on personal anecdote in the first place, but that’s beside the point; it’s perfectly fine to write from personal perspective as long as one doesn’t simultaneously try to make controversial statements based off nothing more than impressions and assumptions. Again, this is how our adversaries operate. I refer you to a certain commentator who recently recounted his dining experience in Harlem. I actually believe that from his point of view he does not consider himself a racist at all, which is why he spoke so freely and eloquently about how surprised he was that an African-American restaurant could be so civilized. He was babbling about race and he exposed his ignorance. The lesson? Don’t babble when you talk in public about serious things.  

If we are going to hold people accountable for their language it is absolutely essential that we strive to be accountable for our own. Nobody is perfect and we all err (and far more grievously than you did, Thea. The last thing I want to do is discourage you or give you the impression that I think you are a terrible person or a bad writer.). I did consider if I erred by using the word ‘liberal’ in the title of the post, but I concluded that it is actually quite perfect. To see it from my point of view, I have spent years arguing with the right wing, and yours was literally the first lefty blog I have posted a contentious comment to in… well, that would probably be ever. I am very familiar with the psychotic hostility right wing posters are capable of especially when the subject of their wrath is a woman of any color. I certainly find your explanation sadly believable even if the experience of seeing the comment thread suddenly cut off was incredibly hilarious to me. I don’t change or edit my posts at anyone’s request, but to atone for my hubristic assumptions I will offer my services as a knight errant on your message board: as much as I enjoy hunting for right wing bullies I would also enjoy chasing them away from someone who is trying to have a civil conversation.


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