Cross-posted on Right Michigan at http://tinyurl.com/55cnw9
When a man looks at an individual and makes a blanket judgment or assumption based on an unrelated physical characteristic, that man has engaged in bigotry.
Bigotry is ugly. It is destructive. It is a nasty business and there should be no place for it in campaigns, elections, the mainstream media or the Michigan blogosphere. But if we’ve learned anything from the regressisphere the last few years, they’re masters of the despicable.
Last week a journalist named Keith Boykin and Michigan Liberal front-man Eric Baerren made a few political calculations, sloppily scribbled some thoughts across a keyboard and disappointingly injected race into the debate over Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his relationship with Senator Barack Obama. They chose a united front, attacking me personally and firing slings and arrows loaded to the brim with aspersions of racism.
Let me make this very clear. You, gentlemen, not I, brought up race and I. Will. Not. Be. Labeled. A. Racist.
Every neighborhood has a different way of doing things. A different set of behavioral norms, different expectations, different attitudes… and different “go” words. You might get away with saying something on one block that you won’t get away with on another. Where I’m from, calling someone a racist means it’s time to roll up the sleeves, crack the knuckles and throw. But “this” isn’t the Garfield Park Neighborhood. This is RightMichigan.com and we fashion ourselves the civilized sort. The beauty of the blogosphere is that we can take a look at the accusations of bigots and dissect their arguments. It might be less cathartic but it’s guaranteed to produce fewer bruises on the back of my hand.
Let’s start chronologically.
Please read on…
Boykin applied the “racist” label first and is, apparently, entirely blind to the concept of irony. His charge:
Barack Obama is not Jeremiah Wright and he’s certainly not Kwame Kilpatrick. This fact seems so obvious that it hardly merits a response. But the one thing these three have in common is that they are all black men, and Republicans run the risk of racism charges if they try to make the case that they all somehow “the Three Musketeers.”
But then again, this is the party that launched a presidential campaign with an appeal to white racists in Mississippi in 1980, that tried to scare white voters with threats of a menacing black rapist named Willie Horton in 1988, and that used a set of white hands holding an employment rejection letter in a television ad to convince angry white voters in North Carolina that “minorities” were getting ahead through “racial quota laws.”
The fact that Obama is not Wright and is not Kilpatrick is indeed obvious. I would argue it merits NO response. Specifically because no one has made that charge. Boykin sets up a straw man with that simple sentence, stating as a matter of assumed fact that Republicans, including yours truly, have claimed the men are the same. He accuses me of a charge and offense I plainly did not commit and then uses that non-offense to label me a villain on par with perceived racists dating back to an election that took place hundreds of miles to the south when I was thirteen months old.
Of course a quick gander at the site’s masthead tells an even more frustrating story.
The Daily Voice bills itself as “Black America’s Daily News Source” (and is sponsored by Black Entertainment Television). His column can also be found on BlackPoliticsontheWeb.com. But RightMichigan is the one hung up on race.
Now, I don’t take any particular offense at the “black” labels. While a newspaper billing itself as “White America’s Daily News Source” would almost certainly cater to deep-seeded hatreds, traditionally “black” publications are much more often segregated out of a sense of pride and affirmation than they are predicated on ugliness.
Let’s ignore, for a moment, the fact that the African American population in my family is larger than that of Baerren’s home town and take a hard look at the sewage still dripping from the walls of his blog’s host server.
“…why link the two. (sic) On the surface, both have things in common — both come from urban areas, both are Democrats, and both are African Americans.
Because there is otherwise no reason (sic) to link the two, other than the existence (sic) of a video in which one Democrat said nice things about another Democrat publicly (sic), there is no reason to assume that because both are Democrats likewise has any meaning (sic). To tar the one with the alleged sins of the other requires an exercise in guilt by association so strained that it threatens to snap and cover the land with concentrated stupid.
The same could be said of the issue of race. On the surface, it is a meaningless relationship, unless you actually subscribe to the notion that all African Americans know each other and provide cover for each other in times of trouble.
But, it is those underlying assumptions that make the connection of Kilpatrick and (sic) Obama where one doesn’t exist so vile. Whether intended — and there is no evidence to suggest that anyone has conciously (sic) made that connection — that connection pokes at bigotries and prejudices burbling just below the surface, suggesting that you can find common ground between the two if you just think about it — they’re all brothers, don’tcha know (sic), and brothers stick together.
(Aside: Yes, this guy moonlights as a “journalist.” I just assume he’s got impossibly patient editors.)
The blogger’s subtle-as-a-sledge-hammer implication is that any writer who dares broach the Kwame / Obama connection in any capacity is a closeted (at best) bigot and a racist. Sure, the connection has been addressed endlessly over the last week by prominent newspaper men and women across the state but earlier in his manifesto he singles me out by name. Kathy Barks Hoffman, Kathleen Gray, Joel Millman, Gordon Trowbridge, Mark Hornbeck and Ed Brayton at the hyper-liberal, Stryker-backed “Michigan Messenger” escape explicit labeling but are easily caught in his giant net.
But see, I’m a white conservative. I’m not one of his “colleagues” in the journalism game and Lord knows I’m not a white liberal. Thus, I’m a racist. Clearly. (This would be a good time to re-read the definition with which I intro’d this column.)
The lie at the black (as in pitch, devoid of light) heart of Baerren’s bigotry is that the only bonds between Kilpatrick and Obama are their urban roots (itself code language in the racial lexicon, though I sincerely doubt the MichLibber correctly identified his own biases when he was writing that tripe), that they’re Democrats and that they’re black. Note, by the way, that it is the Obama supporter who introduces race. Nowhere on any blog, forum, message board, public or private conversation did myself or anyone in any way associated with RightMichigan ever mention it. It is entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. The Obama / Kilpatrick connection is much more than skin deep.
Let’s take a look at a few of the bonds that reach well beyond race, Party ID and `urban roots.’
Why not start with the obvious. The scandal-plagued mayor of Detroit is a Barack Obama super-delegate. The Associated Press quoted Kilpatrick on June 3, 2008:
“I enthusiastically pledge my support to Senator Barack Obama, who will bring much needed hope, change and leadership to take our country in a new direction. I will work hard to ensure he will be victorious in November.”
This wasn’t a surprising decision. The relationship between the men began well before June of this year.
According to this speech in May of 2007, Kwame Kilpatrick and Barack Obama first met “years ago” in Chicago. According to these remarks, Kilpatrick traveled to Chicago to host several fundraisers for pre-POTUS candidate Obama, including at least one during his bid for a seat in the Illinois state Senate. In the interest of a clean timeline… Obama ended his tenure in the Illinois state Senate in 2004. His last state Senate Campaign concluded in 2002. For Kilpatrick’s part, he first assumed the top spot in Detroit in January of 2002.
In other words, the relationship goes back the better part of a decade (at least) and predates both Hizzoner’s time as the mayor of the city of Detroit and Barack Obama’s Presidential aspirations.
These connections only add weight to Obama’s own words; a personal and public claim that Kwame Kilpatrick is his “good friend.” And if we’ve learned anything from Senator Obama it is that his words matter.
Kwame Kilpatrick could be a lily white second generation English American named Geeves Montgomery and that connective resume would draw every bit the attention it draws today. Not that Baerren needs any measure of a personal relationship to connect one man to another when HE disagrees with their politics. We’re talking, after all, about the same blogger who spent an entire week earlier this summer attempting to connect John McCain with a never-indicted foreclosure attorney named David Trott because one of the Arizona Senator’s regional campaign offices is using space leased in a building owned, in part, by Mr. Trott.
If Mr. Trott and Senator McCain have ever even met, we’re not aware of it. Mr. Trott is not a John McCain super-delegate. Senator McCain has never given a public speech praising Mr. Trott and calling him a friend. Mr. Trott, as far as I know, has never traveled to Arizona to host fundraisers for Senator McCain. Neither has Mr. Trott been indicted for any alleged wrong-doing. But his profession is politically unpopular and if you play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon you might be able to link him to John McCain.
Nic Cage kissed Eva Mendes in Ghost Rider. Eva Mendes kissed Will Smith in Hitch. Will Smith (lucky bum) kissed Vivica Fox in Independence Day. Vivica Fox kissed Jean Claude Van Damme in Hard Corps (luckier bum). Jean Claude Van Damme kissed Natasha Henstridge in Maximum Risk. Natasha Henstridge kissed Alfred Molina in Species. So I guess Doctor Octopus and Ghost Rider make out on the weekends?
That sort of argument is preposterous. What would be even more ridiculous is if I accused Eric of trying to link John McCain to Dave Trott because they “both come from (sub)urban areas, both are (Republicans), and both are (Caucasian) Americans.”
But with significantly less connective material that’s exactly the track Baerren takes in labeling me a racist.
If The Bigot had a shred of decency he’d post a full retraction and a personal apology. Then he’d email the text and the hyperlink to every newspaper in the state that’s carried a single Obama / Kilpatrick story. But he won’t. Because if bigotry illustrates anything it’s a gaping hole where the human heart is usually located and a dark void in the soul.
Not that I’m asking for an apology. Attempting to silence his political opponents with false charges, smears and name calling is both a form of intellectual fascism and par for the MichganLiberal course. Ultimately I couldn’t care less whether or not the kid feels remorse for irresponsibly tossing around bigoted, base, vitriolic labels. Just so long as he and the rest of the regressisphere understand there are some things you don’t get away with on my block.
I get that nuance is a lost art with most of the lefty set but that’s OK. There are a couple of ways you can interpret this clip from the John Wayne v. Richard Boone classic “Big Jake.” One is nuanced, one’s pretty straightforward. Take your pick. Works for me either way.