Archive - Apr 22, 2011

AKA Fainting Couch

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Memo to Marilyn Davenport: YES, YOU ARE A RACIST.

But don't feel bad. Half the GOP is either racist or racist-curious these days, if a new poll is to be believed. Only one third of Republicans believe Obama was born in the US. Of the rest, about two Republicans are sure he's foreign for every one who's not sure he's American. And since the birther myth exists solely to provide an outlet for deep-seated right-wing racist resentment of a black President, this means that the Orange County Republican Central Committee* member is in good, if incrementally more subtle, company.

Something else Davenport has in common with her fellow Republicans. Republicans can be trained to believe the most ridiculous things just by hearing them a few times while wanting desperately for them to be true. Sorry to burst your bubble, but every time you portray Barack Obama as a monkey, you're racist. That's how it works. So either stop doing it, or do it knowingly.

And I know. Every time this crops up, some wingnut wag points out the fact that liberals called Dubya a fucking chimpanzee for eight years. Which we did. Present company included. And you know why we can do it, and you can't? Because context matters. With Bush, we were portraying one rich white Texan, a group not normally or historically associated with being portrayed as less than human, as a lower primate on account of him being an idiot and having certain chimp-like facial expressions. With Obama, all you have is the ears. Well, the ears, plus centuries of deliberate caricature and language equating African descent with a bestial subhuman nature. But that second one is the racist part.

Also, there is no beloved children's book monkey named BARACK. There is one named George. The joke didn't exactly write itself, but it didn't require a writer's room in New York and hours of research to get there, either. There's a difference between low-hanging fruit and low-hanging strange fruit, is what I'm saying.

But Margaret Davenport is still trying to weasel out of the consequences for forwarding a right-wing "comedy" e-mail picture of Obama's face badly 'shopped onto an ape body, with an ape family, with a joke about him not releasing the birth certificate. She has created the equation Birther (Racist) + Monkey (Racist) and somehow decided the solution is NOT RACIST. First excuse!

"Again, for those select few who might be truly offended by viewing a copy of an email I sent to a select list of friends and acquaintances, unlike the liberal left when they do the same, I offer my sincere apologies to you--the email was not meant for you."

The liberal left never does the same. I'd ask for a cite, but the best the right could come up with is some slightly gender-specific snark about Sarah Palin, which would totally be the same thing in some parallel universe where things that were totally different turned out, in a twist complete with Rod Serling voiceover, to be the same. And "I'm sorry a few non-racists got my totally racist e-mail" is not a defense unless, like many wingnuts, you believe in the Heisenberg Offensiveness Principle, in which the act of being offended rests entirely with the observer - so as long as no sensitive eyes see it, or any sensitive ears that hear it are dragged behind a truck afterward, it doesn't count. Since only Rush Limbaugh subscribes to that theory, for obvious reasons, it's time for the second excuse!

"I think it's only racist when the intent in my heart is to make it that way, and that was not the intent in my heart... My position would be I am concerned, knowing what the responsibility is of a president. I guess we should know his origin, shouldn't we? ... I guess I wonder why he doesn't tell us." She also called the e-mail "satire".

A quick aside to the journalist community. There is this thing out there called the "followup question". It's a relic from a bygone era when journalists who heard a public official say something ridiculous, or perhaps a string of half a dozen ridiculous things in a row, and thought maybe they shouldn't let those ridiculous things go unchallenged.

For example. When a racist sends out a racist e-mail, then claims it's not racist because the President HASN'T TOLD US HIS ORIGIN, that would be the time for a followup question. Something that points out that the President has told us his origin, proven his origin, and asking Davenport what exactly is preventing her from believing it? Oh, here's a good followup question, too. "What does the word 'satire' mean, and by what means did you conclude that this picture of Barack Obama as a baby ape constitutes satire?"

Oh, and here's one more. "Given that nobody can know what's in another person's heart, apart from, you know, medical science who've pretty much found that it's just ventricles and blood as far as the echocardiogram can see, why should we take a racist's word for it instead of the evidence of that racist's actions? Huh, racist? You gonna cry? Gonna cry, racist? Gonna wipe away your tears with your giant, pointy handkerchief? The one with the eye holes cut in it?"

I freely admit that the wording of that last one might have to be changed to meet certain standards of journalistic ethics, so remember, journalists - as soon as you start using those standards again, stop making veiled, taunting references to Klan robes at racist California Republicans.

To the Orange County Republican Party's credit, they are still calling for Davenport's resignation, and not letting her off the hook with her shitty excuses the way the GOP usually does. It's not exactly political courage, of course - this is California, where the GOP put up a pair of minority candidates with deep pockets in their tailored pantsuits, and neither one of them could buy enough votes to win in a year where an R next to your name almost guaranteed victory.

But even bowing to the political reality that racism doesn't go over big in California is a step up for the GOP these days, when the entire party seems to think that bowing to any kind of reality is even worse than bowing to the Japanese emperor. Or at least two thirds of them do.

*By the way, how is it Obama continues Bush's "czars" and is a commie, but Republicans can have CENTRAL FUCKING COMMITTEES and nobody cares? Oh, right. Because Obama's black. Never mind.