Friday, May 07, 2010

Two weeks of the Howler and Arizona's SB1070

Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the anti-immigrant SB1070 on April 23, and HB2062 that provided minor amendments to it, on April 30, both to take effect July 29. Latinos, civil rights groups and the public generally recognized that this law would produce increased racial profiling, despite Brewer's assurances to the contrary. This is a law in the Jim Crow mode like those of the segregated South that gave police various pretexts to hassle African-Americans citizens at a whim, or for more directed reasons to intimidate real or potential dissidents and activists.

I thought I would take a look at the daily posts by Bob "the Daily Howler" Somerby, who for a long time now has been scolding those bad, bad liberals for even suggesting that white racism might play a part in the Tea Party movement. Here's how he dealt with the issues of white racism and Arizona's Juan Crow law in the two weeks after Gov. Brewer signed SB1070.

April 26, IT’S THE STUPIDITY, STUPID! A lengthy profile of Mike Allen reveals the world’s greatest problem: criticizes Keith Olbermann for eulogizing coal miners killed in West Virginia as "band of 29 roughneck angels." Claims Olbermann had previously somehow derided those same people as "teabaggers. Attacks naughty liberals for being partisan on their own behalf: "We tend to enjoy The Dumb when it’s aimed at Them, abhor it when it’s aimed at Us. Beyond that, we liberals like to pretend that The Dumb is a mark of The Other Tribe." Whether "we liberals" is an appropriate phrase for Somerby to be using these days is not clear.

April 27, BROOKS & DUMB! In a clueless column, David Brooks rolls over and dies for The Dumb: It takes work to make a garbled criticism of one of Bobo's columns; that should be an easy target. But Somerby accomplishes it here. And managed to bring his point around to scolding liberals for talking about white racism: "Whether we’re talking about the Internet or cable “news” channels, when we scan the work of The Other Tribe, we often do so because it hurts so good—because we love to hate their (racist/elitist) work." Liberals "love to hate", he tells his readers over and over, including in this column.

April 28, THE USES OF PAPA CASS! On Glenn Beck’s show, Cass Sunstein loves Mao. Why won’t David Brooks say so?: Avoids race, but trashes Maureen Dowd for criticizing a cynical Goldman Sachs executive. Dowd does write some real howlers and sometimes seems downright disturbed, but Somerby's particular criticism of her on this point fall flat.

April 29, IT’S THE STUPIDIFICATION, STUPID! When S. E. Cupp sat down with the Lamb, The Dumb was all around: Bashes Paul Krugman for criticizing those nice white folks who support the Jim Crow-style SB1070 law. "Only a virally tribal person could compose such a ludicrous post," he says of Krugman. Bad, bigoted, libruls, bad libruls. Here he employs the standard Republican pitch that one should never make generalization about people on the basis of political party. The problem with that silly argument, of course, is that we have political parties because people do make distinctions between themselves and others on the basis of politics and policy.

April 30, THE REFUSAL TO SPEAK! David Brooks refuses to speak. E. J. Dionne gives him cover: complains that "the loonies and fools are on TV" and that liberal and conservative pundits aren't explaining it enough. Observes at the end that while we search in vain for examples of David Brooks or E.J. Dionne writing about that adequately, "Glenn Beck will tell his viewers ten times about [Cass] Sunstein’s vast love for Mao." But then in earlier columns, Somerby scolded Digby for complaining about his Tea Party crush Pam Stout, who declared that Beck provokes her to think. Somerby himself says that Beck, who raves John Birch Society conspiracy theories, is often "erudite." If it's wicked for us libruls to ever criticize Beck or the people who he suckers, does Somerby actually think it's a bad thing that Beck tells his audience "about Sunstein’s vast love for Mao"?

May 3, THE CULTURE OF FURY AND INSULT! When Tapper’s panel discussed that new law, an unhelpful pattern emerged: Somerby agrees with conservative New York Times' columnist Ross Douthat that liberals were mean in assuming that the motives of supporters of Arizona's Juan Crow law weren't pure as the driven snow. Bad liberal, bad, bad liberals! He also bitches about the This Week panel talking about an amendment to Arizona's SB1070 without describing what the amendment did; but the Howler doesn't both to explain it either. (See my post of 05/05/10 on that topic.)

May 4, RICH, LAZY AND DISHONEST! Does Rich ever know what he’s talking about? Liberals should be concerned: scolds naughty liberals for talking about racial considerations in the Arizona SB1070 controversy; says "white liberals love to accuse other people - specifically, white conservatives and centrists - of bigotry and racism", says this is an "especially noxious" trait of those bad white liberals. Suggests that liberals are "condescending dandies who can’t be trusted, elitists who sneer at valid concerns".

May 5, JUST ASK ROBERT BENNETT! The Tea Party movement hates white people too! Just ask Robert Bennett: how can we say Tea Partiers are racist when they hate some white people too? Plus, hey, look at all the black Republicans running for office! All that anti-immigrant and anti-Latino bile, the Tea Partiers in Washington chanting "nigger, nigger, nigger" at two African-American Congressman (an event on Somerby shares FOX News' skepticism that it even happened), why that's no sign that white racism is involved. It could just be the way these nice white folks are saying they don't like Big Business. Oh, and liberal leaders "simply aren’t very smart" and "tend a bit toward the morally bankrupt."

May 6, ENDLESS AMAZEMENT! We’re still amazed at the childish things our celebrity “journalists” do: Attacks some of his favorite liberal targets among the celebrity punditry - Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O’Donnell, Gail Collins, Frank Rich - over Sen. Lindsey Graham's complaints about the terrorism watch list interfering with the alleged right of people on it to buy guns and explosives. Somerby doesn't touch on race in this one. But he doesn't add much clarity to Graham's particular complaint, which on the surface strikes me as possibly one of those stopped-clock-is-right-twice-a-day moments where Graham may be making a valid point for a frivolous reason. Somerby makes it an example of liberal frivolity. He bridges Frank Rich into the complaint with this: "The 'watch list' story has special appeal [to liberal pundits] because it fits treasured New York Times themes about southerners, guns and religion." (New York City's Mayor Bloomberg thinks it's a real law-enforcement problem. Dibgy describes why she thinks Graham is being inconsistent in Tyranny For Dummies Hullabaloo 05/05/10.)

May 7, WHAT DIGBY SAID! In a remarkable pair of posts, Digby helps us recall the truth about someone’s favorite: after having blasted Digby in recent weeks for talking about white racism, he recommends a couple of her recent posts highlighted the dysfunctional nature of our national press corps and of Chris Matthews in particular. (Matthews is a mess, even when he's taking the Democrats' side; Somerby is right about that.) And Somerby blasts Salon's Joan Walsh for, apparently, giving some stock general praise to Chris Matthews when she appears on his show. He's also been blasting Walsh lately for the same sin as Digby, talking about white racism. He says here, "be prepared to get sick to your stomach the next time you see Walsh parade out onto Matthews’ show and tell him how great he is - how much his deeply seminal thinking resembles that of Joan herself."

Just how is Bob Somerby different from the standard white Republican rightwinger on the issues raised by SB1070?

One thing is very clear: he really, really, really doesn't like it when liberals or social scientists or anyone talks in public about white racism in a negative way.

To get an idea of the company in which that puts him, see Christine Schwen, Racial profiling? No problem, say conservative media Media Matters 04/30/10.

Standing alone, some of his columns, like the May 6 one, could read like a liberal contrarian take on our celebrity press corps, who really are generally painfully shallow. But taken in the context of his other columns cited here, even that one could also be read, perhaps more plausibly, as an echo of stock conservative complaints about the Liberal Media Conspiracy. He characterizes leading liberal pundits Keith Olbermann, Lawrence O’Donnell, Gail Collins as follows:

This are truly hideous people, the scum of modern, big-bucks corporate culture. But mainly, they’re amazingly childish. Collins’ column is stunningly clownish—and therefore, it’s pleasing for readers, and it was easy to type. In truth, these people will do and say anything to maintain the tribal game of the moment. And they seem to be sure that your low IQs won’t let you spot their game. [my emphasis in bold]
What rightwinger would disagree that Keith Olbermann and most other liberal pundits are "truly hideous people" and "scum"?

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