Ghosts of Racism Alive and Well

James Woods Ghosts of Mississippi

Back in 1996 when James Woods played the character of the white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith in the movie “Ghosts of Mississippi” was he invoking a muse that was also a part of his real life character?

What makes it newsworthy when another old white male condemns Barack Obama for playing the race card?  When it doesn’t come from the usual suspects.  You know, the balding, big gutted old white men who dress up in 18th century costumes and parade around with like-minded people who think we need to recapture the days when slavery was legal and women were not allowed to vote.  This time it comes from a prominent Hollywood star, James Woods.

James Woods went on a bit of a Twitter rant after President Obama yesterday addressed Trayvon Martin’s death and the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict

The president’s speech apparently did not sit well with the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor in the context of economic issues.

During the course of his remarks about the controversial Florida case in which the Hispanic neighborhood watchman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter, the president said “And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.”

This portion of Obama’s address prompted the actor to tweet “The only reason people lock their car doors when Obama walks by is they are afraid he’ll tax them to death.”   SOURCE 

But it was the tweets that preceded his “tax them to death” comment that were indicative of someone who thought that a little empathy for young black males following the recent verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder trial was out of place.  Only someone who shares no real empathy with blacks would suggest such a sentiment.

“Just curious. Does the President of the United States have any advice for other teenage boys in America? Wounded warriors, for example… “

then 7 minutes later, this:

“ALL youth of every heritage in this country would benefit from jobs and manageable student loans, NOT a bloated Welfare State”    SOURCE 

Mr. Woods expresses an ignorance of the facts that most Obama haters do.  Barack Obama has never led anyone to believe that he doesn’t have compassion for the other American teenagers, wounded warriors or the jobless.   And I would challenge Mr. Woods or anyone who identifies with him to demonstrate where he has.

In one USAToday report in April of last year Obama praises wounded warriors:

President Obama praised wounded servicemembers who are conducting a bike rally to raise public awareness.

“This is one of the most inspiring events we have here at the White House,” Obama told more than two dozen Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard members in the sixth annual Wounded Warriors Project’s Soldier Ride.

The cyclists, many missing arms or legs, serve as “a reminder that all of us can do our part to serve the men and women who serve us,” Obama said.

“And I’m glad to see you’re all decked out in the stars and stripes,” he added, “because I want anybody who sees this ride go by to know that they’re in the presence of heroes.”

The Soldier Ride “raises awareness of our nation’s Wounded Warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war,” said the White House.   SOURCE

To believe that the Obama administration has not struggled to reduce unemployment and create an environment for job growth is simply disingenuous.  Something I would never have expected from a brilliant actor like James Woods.  Where are his unkind remarks for the Party of No who refuse to compromise on all things to work with the president in job creation?  Despite the obstacles that the GOP has consistently put in front of the president we have seen the unemployment rate drop from a 10.1% high back in July of 2009 to it’s current 7.5%.

The truth be known, I kind of know where James Wood is coming from.  I know many progressives like myself who were raised in the segregationist South during the 50’s and 60’s find an uncomfortable connection with the attitude of older whites who seem openly hostile to those they feel are over playing the race card.

What makes this all so regrettable to me is that I have always held James Woods in high esteem as one of the most talented character actors of our time.  That will likely not change but now we see the success of his ability to disguise his true character when playing roles that show sympathy to people who suffer in our society, often for reasons they have no control over.  Showing a side of him that resents the president’s comments regarding young black males perhaps enabled him to give an outstanding performance as Byron De La Beckwith in the 1996 movie, Ghosts of Mississippi.  De la Beckwith was the white supremacist and Klansman from Greenwood, Mississippi who was found guilty in 1994 for the murder of the black civil rights advocate Medger Evers back in 1963.

The truth be known, I kind of know where James Woods is coming from.  I know many progressives like myself who were raised in the segregationist South during the 50’s and 60’s find an uncomfortable connection with the attitude of older whites who seem openly hostile to those they feel are over playing the race card.  It is not that easy to completely rid your memories of a time when hate for blacks predominated most Southern white culture.

And yes it is racist when a white man can’t understand that blacks today, especially young black males, are still victims to a more subtle form of racism that is often expressed by whites in their demeanor when they see them in a public place.

Even those of us whose parents were not flagrant bigots still lived among relatives who looked at blacks not much differently from the days when people like Thomas Jefferson himself, who reviled the institution of slavery, still felt that they were “by their habits rendered as incapable as children of taking care of themselves” and “his paternalistic belief that slaves were incapable of supporting themselves in freedom and his fear they would become a burden to society” 

I have struggled to rid such feelings from my being all of my life but recognize they still exist when racist comments from the likes of James Woods come out.  And yes it is racist when a white man can’t understand that blacks today, especially young black males, are still victims to a more subtle form of racism that is often expressed by whites in their demeanor when they see them in a public place.  Of course it is not racists to not acknowledge blacks in public.  But when the body signals that emanate from, say a young white woman with children, as they alter their path away from them and draw their kids in oh so slightly closer, such actions can project a fear based on ingrained views they were raised with.

Some whites may feel that because the outward signs of racial discrimination are no longer prevalent or legal as they were in an earlier era, blacks have no legitimate standing to raise the race issue any longer.   But this is more of an opinion derived from never having truly known deep-seated racism.

If most of us were honest with ourselves we would acknowledge, regrettably, that such prejudices still exists.  It doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty for them but we need to divest ourselves of the attitude that any claims of racism by blacks and other minorities are always without merit.  They clearly are not.

Even today racism is imbedded at some level with most white kids.  Not overtly with the vitriol it once was but nonetheless taught by parents who are often not that aware they are doing so.

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22 responses to “Ghosts of Racism Alive and Well

  1. LB,

    With all due respect, your argument is that James Woods criticized Obama’s support of Trayvon Martin, and since James Woods is white, ergo he must be racist.

    Then you further argue that James Woods makes arguments that imply Obama lacks empathy for other groups, which is supposed to somehow corroborate your claim that Woods is racist. Of course, this is not what Woods tweeted. Take this quote for instance:

    “ALL youth of every heritage in this country would benefit from jobs and manageable student loans, NOT a bloated Welfare State”

    This is a legitimate critique of Obama’s track record, not of his empathy or his motives. His empathy for youth is irrelevant if his methods fail to show results. It certainly is not racist. While unemployment numbers have certainly improved, they are nowhere near the 6.5% rate the president promised us by 2010. Moreover, more people in the United States receive food aid than are employed by the private sector (see http://www.ijreview.com/2013/07/63976-obamanomics-more-americans-on-food-stamps-than-work-in-private-sector/), and it happened on Obama’s watch.

    What I think makes some folks upset about the president’s comments in this case is that, like the Professor Gates incident where both sides had legitimate explanations for their behavior, President Obama always takes one side, when he should remain above the fray. Take the Antonio Santiago shooting for instance, which is all but one-sided (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57578177-504083/antonio-santiago-shooting-update-judge-wants-trial-in-ga-baby-killing-before-year-ends/). Where’s the president’s statement on race relations here? Or the case of voter intimidation in Philadelphia, which the Justice Department inextricably dropped (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203550604574361071968458430.html). If a white president always took the side of white assailants/victims (depending on one’s point of view) there would be riots in this country. Apparently, if someone merely criticizes an African American president for doing the exact same thing, it is racism.

    If you are looking for a model celebrity’s comment on the case, Charles Barkley seems to have a balanced view: http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/charles-barkley-says-he-agrees-with-trayvon-martin-george-zimmerman-not-guilty-verdict-071813. But calling one’s opponents racists simply because they disagree with you is a tired tactic that only incites anger, exacerbates racial tension, and weakens one’s credibility.

    • Sean:

      “What I think makes some folks upset about the president’s comments in this case is that, like the Professor Gates incident where both sides had legitimate explanations for their behavior”

      Did they? Would the white neighbor of Gates had called the cops if she had seen a well dressed, middle-aged white man milling around his house?

      “Then you further argue that James Woods makes arguments that imply Obama lacks empathy for other groups,”

      I didn’t imply it, I rather openly stated stated it. Why would you think that my interpretation of his comments were wrong and yours was right? By default when someone says “Just curious. Does the President of the United States have any advice for OTHER teenage boys in America?” (emphasis mine) does that not signify to you that he is not doing so?

      I find it ludicrous too Sean that you would try to make a comparison of the Antonio Santiago killing with the Trayvon Martin muder. The only similarities here is that there were blacks involved in both tragedies. One was a senseless crime where a teenage black boy committed a robbery and wound up killing a 13 moth old baby. The other was an adult male stalking what he thought was a theif based on nothing more than appearances and killed him after forcing a confrontation by leaving the security of his vehicle, something the police dispatcher told him not to do. The national reaction to the first crime was not even on the same scale as the reaction to the verdict of the Martin case. Why would you even suggest such an apples to oranges comparison?

      And please, when are you people on the right going to get over the case where the justice department, UNDER BUSH, decided not to prosecute two blacks that conservative news media portrayed as bullies in a voting precinct in Philadelphia. And let’s be clear here too. You twisted my premise by stating I called Woods a racist because we disagreed on a thing. That isn’t what I did at all.

      Whether you want to except it or not Sean, what makes Woods comments racists at some level is his timing and his failure to read Obama’s speech in its correct context. My post was to point out that people who cannot understand the subtle forms of racism today are all too willing to dismiss expressions of concerns like those of Obama’s for young black males who clearly have higher unemployment rates, higher rates of incarceration and are more often victim of gun violence, usually from those within the black community. You, James Woods and I as white men have little to no experience with this way of life. In fact it is likely that because we are white and male our odds to succeed in this world are enhanced by that mere fact alone.

      The president appeared to only “take one side” to you because as a white person you resent the notion that there is not the same sense of justice and equality for all people out there, or at best, do so grudgingly. Again, only a white person who has never had to fight harder for what life offers simply because fate made him a child that seldom was on the receiving end of injustice and inequality would be offended that the president saw that ugly truth and addressed it rather than ignore it or as you like to put it, “remain above the fray”.

      If it bothered James Woods that Obama would take this opportunity when the nation is strongly focused on the events of this case, with opposition protests springing up in several large major cities, and decided to attack what he thinks Obama’s failures were, he did so as someone who shares no empathy with how the black community sees this. When looked at from your calm, collective rationale, culturally white view, you can’t seem to grasp why there would be consternation over this in the black community. That failure to see the frustration of a race that has a long history of violence perpetrated by whites centuries ago is racist because it disregards the pain and suffering of others.

      Yes, there is black on black violence and Obama addressed this in his speech. But he makes a cogent point about how the plight of African Americans today, regardless of the outward appearances of equality, still come out on the short end of a system that itself is often flawed. Here’s what the president said in regard to that.

      “The African-American community is …. knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

      Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

      We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

      And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

      I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

      So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.” SOURCE

      When Woods made his comment that implied that the President had addressed only the needs of black people he did by default negate this unique cultural history of people who unlike poor whites were intentionally denied at one time in their history to succeed through hard work and rise above the fray with equal opportunities at education and housing. He took the president’s speech out of context that was weighing in on a crisis that had recently developed from the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case and extrapolated his misinformed view about social and economic conditions in this country. Had he been a black conservative Republican he would not have made these remarks at this particular time because all blacks knew where Obama was coming from.

      But white Woods and his anti-Obama views was blind to this precise moment where the President did need to speak to an outraged nation and put context on it that was aimed at helping an angry and confused black population come to grips with it. Did Woods take this opportunity to express his political views because it would get the attention it apparently has? Was it political grandstanding at the expense of the black culture that could have shown more empathy had he used some other time and situation to express it?

      Black people who have felt the weight of injustice in this country far more than whites would say yes, but you and James Wood wouldn’t understand that because, well … you’re not black now are you. It is this failure to see that though you and James Woods may not be personally racist and of the kind that some of us saw back in the 50’s and 60’s, for white people today to take offense that blacks would suggest that racism is alive and well today is itself a form of racism because it refuses to bring this issue out into the public dialogue so we can once and for all rid ourselves of it.

      It’s probably not a stretch either to most black people to say James Woods’ comments in response to Obama’s message on the Trayvon Martin murder case was not unlike the Westboro Baptist church standing outside of a military funeral protesting their opposition to gays in the military. If that’s hard for you to fathom it may have a lot to do with the fact that you are a strident opponent of anything associated with Barack Obama. Your “rationale reflections” meme on your blog is often more wishful thinking than it is reality Sean. And this come from someone who likes you and reads your blog.

      • “Did they? Would the white neighbor of Gates had called the cops if she had seen a well dressed, middle-aged white man milling around his house?”

        Yes. If she saw someone she didn’t recognize breaking into Gates’ window, I absolutely think she would have.

        “One was a senseless crime where a teenage black boy committed a robbery and wound up killing a 13 moth old baby. The other was an adult male stalking what he thought was a theif based on nothing more than appearances and killed him after forcing a confrontation by leaving the security of his vehicle, something the police dispatcher told him not to do. The national reaction to the first crime was not even on the same scale as the reaction to the verdict of the Martin case. Why would you even suggest such an apples to oranges comparison?”

        And this is what bothers me most. Are we to measure the weight of a crime based solely on the national reaction to it? Is that wise? Why is there more outrage when a man kills another man to defend himself than when two men shoot an innocent baby in the face?

        “And please, when are you people on the right going to get over the case where the justice department, UNDER BUSH, decided not to prosecute two blacks that conservative news media portrayed as bullies in a voting precinct in Philadelphia.”

        Not true. The Justice Department filed a case in early January 2009, just before Bush left office. However, an Obama administration squashed the case in July 2009 (see http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203550604574361071968458430.html). And you imply that these two Black Panthers shouldn’t have been prosecuted for intimidating votes by brandishing clubs within 100 feet of a polling station. Are you saying this behavior is OK? (you can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neGbKHyGuHU)

        “You twisted my premise by stating I called Woods a racist because we disagreed on a thing. That isn’t what I did at all.”

        It’s not? The title of your article is “Ghosts of Racism Alive and Well,” which clearly implies that James Woods is either a racist or made racist comments.

        As for the remainder of your argument, it boils down to your contention that my view and Mr. Woods’s view are invalid because we are white. Does that mean that you would give more credence to my argument if I were African American? Do you think it would be fair for you to do so, to weigh my argument more heavily because of nothing other than the color of my skin?

        “When Woods made his comment that implied that the President had addressed only the needs of black people he did by default negate this unique cultural history of people who unlike poor whites were intentionally denied at one time in their history to succeed through hard work and rise above the fray with equal opportunities at education and housing.”

        Really? Perhaps for the African Americans of your generation and certainly those before, but the African Americans of President Obama’s generation and beyond have had overwhelmingly unfair educational advantages based solely on the color of their skin. For instance, take college admissions to elite schools, while the data in this New York Times book review (see http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/10/25/reviews/981025.25wolfet.html) is somewhat dated, it suggests the following:

        “One effect of taking race into account into account in the admissions process is that among applicants with combined SAT scores in the low 1200 range, a black applicant is three times as likely to get into an elite college as a white applicant.”

        To emphasize the point, “a black applicant is three times as likely to get into an elite college as a white applicant.” There is nothing equal opportunity about this.

        To be clear, LB, I am attacking your argument, not you. I too enjoy following your blog. But when you call or imply that someone or someone’s comments are racist you have to prove it, and I still don’t think you have.

      • ”Yes. If she saw someone she didn’t recognize breaking into Gates’ window, I absolutely think she would have.”

        Really? Well that’s awful white of you Sean. And you can be so certain of this .. how? You know her personally? This is pretty presumptuous of you.

        ”Are we to measure the weight of a crime based solely on the national reaction to it? Is that wise?”

        Whether one believes this to be a necessity or not is irrelevant Sean. Whether its right or wrong the mere fact that it happens will have a bearing on who says what about it.

        ”Why is there more outrage when a man kills another man to defend himself than when two men shoot an innocent baby in the face?”

        Well, if we ‘re talking about a likely scenario I’m sure there wouldn’t be. But your view that all Zimmerman was doing was defending himself is a stretch. The fact that he left the security of his car after the police dispatcher told him not to clearly changes things and puts Zimmerman at risk from his own actions. Had Martin killed him with whatever means it would have been the result of this poor judgement call by Zimmerman. And had that happened, how likely do you think the police would have released Martin as quick as they did Zimmerman, if at all, by declaring he was defending himself against a stalker with a gun?

        “Not true. The Justice Department filed a case in early January 2009, just before Bush left office. However, an Obama administration squashed the case in July 2009 …”

        Well where did this come from then:

        Bush DOJ decided New Black Panthers no major case.

        The decision not to file a criminal case occurred before Obama was even in office.
        This means that the case was downgraded to a civil case 11 days before Obama was inaugurated, 26 days before Eric Holder became attorney general, and about nine months before Thomas Perez was confirmed as head of the Civil Rights Division.
        “So, no matter how many times J. Christian Adams declares that the Obama administration refuses to protect the rights of white people — and no matter how many times Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh repeat it — it’s not true.”

        ”It’s not? The title of your article is “Ghosts of Racism Alive and Well,” which clearly implies that James Woods is either a racist or made racist comments.

        So you concluded this just by reading my title??? Could it not have been a play on words to make a reference to the 1996 film title that Woods happened to have had a role in and the fact that racism is indeed alive and well in this country today? If I had a title stating, “The World Ends Tomorrow”, would you begin digging a shelter that day?

        ”As for the remainder of your argument, it boils down to your contention that my view and Mr. Woods’s view are invalid because we are white.”

        With all due respect Sean that is pure horse shit. Your views are “valid” in that they are yours but clearly you can’t presume that they have the equal credibility of a black person whose history and personal experience has been affected by racism.

        ”Does that mean that you would give more credence to my argument if I were African American?”

        Absolutely

        ”Do you think it would be fair for you to do so, to weigh my argument more heavily because of nothing other than the color of my skin?”

        {{{{{{Big Grin}}}}}} You think your opinion would derive simply from the fact that you skin is different? If you were treated just like you have always been as a white person then skin color is irrelevant. But since skin color actually effects the outcome of people’s lives, as history has proven, for good and bad, then YES, your argument would carry much more weight if you had lived the life that most black men do.

        ”Perhaps for the African Americans of your generation and certainly those before, but the African Americans of President Obama’s generation and beyond have had overwhelmingly unfair educational advantages based solely on the color of their skin. For instance, take college admissions to elite schools …”

        Wow! A handful of worthy blacks get an advantage in elite schools and somehow you think this pans out as equal justice for all blacks across the board. That is a bit of a stretch and besides Sean, after 400 years of slavery, if a handful of blacks gain an edge over whites don’t you think they are due. Overall, whites still have an educational advantage over blacks and will for the foreseeable future

        ”To be clear, LB, I am attacking your argument, not you. I too enjoy following your blog. But when you call or imply that someone or someone’s comments are racist you have to prove it, and I still don’t think you have.”

        And there in lies the conundrum. Is it that I haven’t actually illustrated a degree of racism in Woods’ words or that you choose to believe I haven’t?

      • LB,

        Sorry for the delay. I finally now have some time to respond to your comments:

        “Really? Well that’s awful white of you Sean. And you can be so certain of this .. how? You know her personally? This is pretty presumptuous of you.”

        That’s fair. I cannot be certain, but neither can you. In your original comment you implied that she wouldn’t have called the cops had Gates been white:

        “Would the white neighbor of Gates had called the cops if she had seen a well dressed, middle-aged white man milling around his house?”

        You have no way of know this either.

        “Well, if we ‘re talking about a likely scenario I’m sure there wouldn’t be. But your view that all Zimmerman was doing was defending himself is a stretch. The fact that he left the security of his car after the police dispatcher told him not to clearly changes things and puts Zimmerman at risk from his own actions. Had Martin killed him with whatever means it would have been the result of this poor judgement call by Zimmerman. And had that happened, how likely do you think the police would have released Martin as quick as they did Zimmerman, if at all, by declaring he was defending himself against a stalker with a gun?”

        It all depends on the physical evidence. I agree that Zimmerman exercised poor judgment in this case. However, in my view, the person who physically threw the first blow is at fault. If Zimmerman was the first to attack Martin, he absolutely should be in prison (though the stand-your-ground law would still protect an aggressor, which I think is not right), but the physical evidence from the trial suggests that Martin likely started the fight and was pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement, so Zimmerman just defended himself.

        “Well where did this come from then:

        “The decision not to file a criminal case occurred before Obama was even in office.
        This means that the case was downgraded to a civil case 11 days before Obama was inaugurated, 26 days before Eric Holder became attorney general, and about nine months before Thomas Perez was confirmed as head of the Civil Rights Division.
        ‘So, no matter how many times J. Christian Adams declares that the Obama administration refuses to protect the rights of white people — and no matter how many times Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh repeat it — it’s not true.'”

        The article I sent concerned President Obama squashing the civil, not the criminal case. The Bush administration did not squash the investigation altogether, it merely downgraded it to a civil case. The Obama administration dropped it altogether, so you still haven’t addressed my point, which was this administration only chooses one side when it comes to race. Can you provide a counterexample?

        “So you concluded this just by reading my title??? Could it not have been a play on words to make a reference to the 1996 film title that Woods happened to have had a role in and the fact that racism is indeed alive and well in this country today? If I had a title stating, “The World Ends Tomorrow”, would you begin digging a shelter that day?”

        I concluded that from reading your title and the content of the blog post. The following line comes to mind:

        “Back in 1996 when James Woods played the character of the white supremacist Byron de la Beckwith in the movie “Ghosts of Mississippi” was he invoking a muse that was also a part of his real life character?”

        Generally when someone compares an individual to a white supremacist, even rhetorically, they are calling that individual a racist.

        “With all due respect Sean that is pure horse shit. Your views are “valid” in that they are yours but clearly you can’t presume that they have the equal credibility of a black person whose history and personal experience has been affected by racism.”

        Got it. You are arguing my views are inferior simply because I’m white. Thanks for the clarification.

        “Wow! A handful of worthy blacks get an advantage in elite schools and somehow you think this pans out as equal justice for all blacks across the board. That is a bit of a stretch and besides Sean, after 400 years of slavery, if a handful of blacks gain an edge over whites don’t you think they are due. Overall, whites still have an educational advantage over blacks and will for the foreseeable future.”

        I think it is unequivocally wrong in any circumstance to provide a group with advantages solely on the basis of their skin. Don’t you? Supporting institutional racism only exacerbates those prejudices. It doesn’t result in “equal justice.”

        Moreover, by your logic should I get preferences because my Irish ancestors were abused by Anglo-Americans when they first arrived? No? Is it because they were white?

        Why don’t Americans of Chinese dissent get education advantages given how Americans abused them on the construction of the Transcontinental railroad? Why? Is it because their ancestors are doing well?

        I’ll let you get to the last word on this, otherwise we will be arguing forever, but I think the crux between our views is based on our backgrounds. You grew in the segregated south and at a time when racism was far worse than it is today. I grew in an area where 25% of the population was African American (vs. ~8% nationwide) and at a time when the government pursued reverse discriminatory policies that made no sense to me as they typically only benefited wealthy African Americans who frankly didn’t need any more help.

      • ”That’s fair. I cannot be certain, but neither can you. In your original comment you implied that she wouldn’t have called the cops had Gates been white: You have no way of know this either.

        But I didn’t raise it as a point to justify an argument Sean. You did.

        ”I agree that Zimmerman exercised poor judgment in this case. However, in my view, the person who physically threw the first blow is at fault … the physical evidence from the trial suggests that Martin likely started the fight and was pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement, so Zimmerman just defended himself.”

        I don’t think the physical evidence suggests anything more than Zimmerman was hurt as he encountered Martin, who was probably trying to prevent Zimmerman from shooting him. Remember, Martin is not alive to give his version of what happened. Zimmerman could have pulled that gun out long before Martin attacked him and Martin reacted to that threat. We’ll never know.

        ”The article I sent concerned President Obama squashing the civil, not the criminal case. The Bush administration did not squash the investigation altogether, it merely downgraded it to a civil case.”

        Which would suggest that this entire incident was less significant than what those on the right were playing it up to be.

        ”The Obama administration dropped it altogether, so you still haven’t addressed my point, which was this administration only chooses one side when it comes to race. Can you provide a counterexample?”

        There is nothing I need to do here. Your supposing that this was a clear cut example of Obama taking sides because of race. Why can’t it simply be that 2 blacks guys toting a baseball bat at a predominantly black precinct had no demonstrable impact on anybody’s voting rights being violated and thus the Justice department chose to prosecute only one guy for a lesser offense.

        ”Generally when someone compares an individual to a white supremacist, even rhetorically, they are calling that individual a racist.

        That would be a generalization but you seem to have latched onto it as fact in my case.

        ”Got it. You are arguing my views are inferior simply because I’m white. Thanks for the clarification.”

        Really Sean? You have lived the deprivation and humiliation that most blacks have so you can honestly suggest your views on race toward blacks is equal to theirs? Surely you see the weakness in this argument don’t you?

        ”I think it is unequivocally wrong in any circumstance to provide a group with advantages solely on the basis of their skin. Don’t you? Supporting institutional racism only exacerbates those prejudices. It doesn’t result in “equal justice.””

        Yes, but how easy that comes from someone whose tradition doesn’t have their culture repressed for the last 400 years. The intent was to create a level playing field here Sean. They didn’t just let any black in who wanted to attend school. They had to meet some pretty high standards. I don’t think you’re looking at the bigger, long-term picture here. Whites as a culture haven’t lost any significant ground by allowing a few blacks privileges over a few white people in this one area.

        ”Moreover, by your logic should I get preferences because my Irish ancestors were abused by Anglo-Americans when they first arrived? No? Is it because they were white? Why don’t Americans of Chinese dissent get education advantages given how Americans abused them on the construction of the Transcontinental railroad? Why? Is it because their ancestors are doing well?”

        An apples to oranges comparison Sean. Apples to oranges. Neither the Chinese or the Irish were enslaved, brought here against their will or denied many of the rights most white protestants had at the time when the Chinese and Irish called this place home.

        ”I think the crux between our views is based on our backgrounds. You grew in the segregated south and at a time when racism was far worse than it is today.”

        And that gives me a broader view of this issue Sean while limiting your scope on it. I have not only seen the worst of this race issue but how things have changed over time so I can understand why you would take the view you do. If only the history of blacks was so easy to dismiss in the lives of those who have had to still deal with it, albeit on a lesser scale, there might not be the angst among them that comes out in cases like the Trayvon Martin shooting.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Until another time, enjoy your new role as an author. You have my greatest respect and admiration.

  2. Sadly so many of us still need that ‘other’ to make us feel better about ourselves. Proud to join you in working on that attitude. 🙂

  3. Well done Larry, well done. But it seems to me that the likes of Mr. Woods so hate this man in the White House, that it matters not what he does or says. They have a rage that is so over the top that they will continue to point and demand that he give us back their country. This when he has lowered their taxes which they fail to either see or acknowledge. They twist and reinvent every word from his mouth and make it sinister and foreboding. They are not to be persuaded. One merely enjoys as best one can poking them with a stick all the while making very sure their cages are securing locked.

    • You are so right, Sherry. People like Mr. Woods and other Republican apologists, lie in wait for opportunities to criticize President Obama and his administration, to turn everything the President has said into an example of how they believe he has failed the country. It is tiresome, so very tiresome. Critical thinking? I laugh at Hazlett’s admonition. Where is the critical thinking in the right’s constant haranguing? – they’ve given that up in exchange for following and spouting the same old memes for almost 8 years.

  4. Mr. Hazlett, like so many other Republicans, conveniently ignore the fact that they have consistently blocked nearly every single effort of this administration to bring jobs back. They also ignore the fact that when President Obama took office, he inherited a gigantic financial mess and two unfunded wars, gratis Bush. But nothing this President does, nor what any Democrat does will make them stop their obstructionist ways. Oh, to have the short memories of this country’s Republicans – the party of NO, the party of the NRA, ALEC and Grover Norquist.

    • “Mr. Hazlett, like so many other Republicans, conveniently ignore the fact that they have consistently blocked nearly every single effort of this administration to bring jobs back. They also ignore the fact that when President Obama took office, he inherited a gigantic financial mess and two unfunded wars, gratis Bush. But nothing this President does, nor what any Democrat does will make them stop their obstructionist ways.”

      Ah, the old “blame Bush” trope. Aside from the House of Representatives, the Democrats have been in charge for the past five years, yet Bush is still responsible for sluggish job growth (oh, and he had a Democratic Congress). For some reason when Democrats hold the presidency, Congress is responsible, but when a Republican is president, he is responsible, and vice versa depending on economic conditions. I don’t deny that President Obama inherited a gigantic financial mess. It’s what he’s done since that I’m criticizing. But apparently if you listen to many Democrats, you’d think Bush had some shadow third term over the last four years. Typical partisan argument.

      Moreover, the fact that your argument assumes that it is government that brings “jobs back” reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about how our economy actually works. Government’s role is to create the conditions that foster economic growth. Sure, a government can hire millions of people to paint rocks, but it is neither a cost effective nor an efficient allocation of resources. Businesses create jobs, and when government fails to provide a stable view on taxation, and how much it will cost to hire new employees (Obamacare), businesses react by conserving capital, and delaying investment and hiring decisions until they can be more confident they can plan for the future.

      Lastly, and most importantly, you attacked a tangential point in an argument that was otherwise focused on my contention that Mr. Woodgate fails to support his argument that James Woods’s comments are racist with adequate evidence or justification. If I had to guess what your reflexive argument to my comment was, it would be “You’re racist.” That is, of course, standard fair nowadays for the Democratic playbook. But, knowing that just addressing the concept of race risks ruin for anyone who disagrees with the politically correct orthodoxy, I carefully constructed my response in such a way as to make such reflexive and ignorant ad hominem arguments appear ham-fisted and silly. An attack on a tangential point is all that remains, because you cannot prove my central contention wrong. I dare you too. There is no logical connection between James Woods’s remarks and racism.

      Oh, and I’d be remiss to end this response without quoting my favorite propagandist line:

      “Oh, to have the short memories of this country’s Republicans – the party of NO, the party of the NRA, ALEC and Grover Norquist.”

      Yes, of course. It’s obvious that Republicans are evil and want to destroy the planet. Are you listening to the rhetoric you’re pedaling? I don’t think Democrats are evil. I just think they’re incompetent. There’s a difference.

      By the way, were the Republicans the same party that said the sequester was going to destroy the economy? Have you looked at the stock market since that “recession”-auguring sequester began? Don’t you find it a bit odd that the press is strangely mum on this topic?

      I rest my case.

      Neither side is blameless, but sometimes a little critical thinking will set you free from the shackles of tribal groupthink.

      • “Yes, please rest your case.”

        Ah, the old liberal Krugmanian saw. When you cannot come up with a cogent counterargument, you resort to snark, as if to engage in a logical argument is too tiresome and beneath you.

      • “Ah, the old liberal Krugmanian saw. When you cannot come up with a cogent counterargument, you resort to snark, as if to engage in a logical argument…”

        Oh I’m sure Jean – Snoring Dod Studio – could if she wanted to Sean. She’s quite the warrior when she puts her mind to it. None the less, I’ll finally have some time available tomorrow to give you the counter argument your response deserves, respectfully of course.

      • “Oh I’m sure Jean – Snoring Dod Studio – could if she wanted to Sean. She’s quite the warrior when she puts her mind to it. None the less, I’ll finally have some time available tomorrow to give you the counter argument your response deserves, respectfully of course.”

        Fair enough. I also have to respond to your earlier comment as well. I just need to do it when I have some more uninterrupted time. And as always, it will be equally respectful. 😉

      • Sean. Seems I had more time tonight than I thought I would. So let’s have a go at this.

        ”Ah, the old “blame Bush” trope.”

        C’mon Sean. I think even you can agree that Bush and the GOP have to take some blame for the state of the economy, so a “blame Bush” response is not without some merit

        ”Aside from the House of Representatives, the Democrats have been in charge for the past five years, yet Bush is still responsible for sluggish job growth (oh, and he had a Democratic Congress).”

        Two things wrong here. 1st, No bill gets passed with just the Senate so to dismiss the fact so cavalierly that only the House was controlled by the GOP avoids the obvious fact that no legislation gets passed, especially from a party hijacked by extremist who refuse to compromise on ANYTHING. 2nd, The Democratic-controlled Senate did not have the supermajority of 60 votes until after Al Franken finally took his seat the last day of June, 2009. But seven months later Scott Brown took Kennedy’s senate seat and the Dems never regained a supermajority to over rule the multitude of filibusters the GOP laid in the path of reform, along with the other tricks of the Senate that allow the minority to hold up bills and presidential appointments, like the hold.. Blue Dog Democrats in moderate districts and states proved to be more concerned about their re-election than standing for party unity and the few that did lost their seats in 2010. So its something of a red-herring to suggest that the Democrats were ever in complete control of either House since Obama’s election

        ”I don’t deny that President Obama inherited a gigantic financial mess. It’s what he’s done since that I’m criticizing.”

        Granted there are some things that I too would have liked to seen Obama do differently, like extend the stimulus bill and pump more money into it to create more job growth than his first efforts succeeded at, but please tell me what you think he did to make the financial condition in this country worse than when he inherited it Sean.

        ”But apparently if you listen to many Democrats, you’d think Bush had some shadow third term over the last four years. Typical partisan argument.’

        You know very well Sean that economic recovery doesn’t turn on a dime. And not until Obama got into office and discovered how deep the recession was did he realize that his promise to restore jobs at the 6.5% level he declared before his inauguration did he realize his initial stimulus package was too little. But by then the right wing astroturf organizations like the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity were blaming him for the Wall Street bailouts and abandoning Main Street. This turned many of those against him who voted for the President in 2008.

        This proved to affect the Blue Dog Democrats also, who began to turn tail and started voting with the GOP on many of his programs. However, as the records show, what he did accomplish shortly after taking office was to stop the job loss bleeding and by July of 2009 we see unemployment finally peak at 10.1%, a condition that can almost entirely be laid at the foot of the previous administration’s trickle down and deregulation policies. Unemployment has been going down since that peak in 2009. Add to this Bush’s huge tax cuts for the wealthy along with two unfunded wars and the economic impact of the recession and you create a devastating deficit at the worst possible time. Even conservative economist will admit to most of this.

        ”Moreover, the fact that your argument assumes that it is government that brings “jobs back” reveals a fundamental lack of understanding about how our economy actually works.”

        Though I can’t cite you personally for this fallacy Sean, many on your side of the political spectrum use this very argument against Obama. With the corporate media failing to properly inform the public, it’s no wonder so many people get this wrong.

        ”Government’s role is to create the conditions that foster economic growth. Sure, a government can hire millions of people to paint rocks, but it is neither a cost effective nor an efficient allocation of resources.”

        Essentially, this argument is flawed Sean, especially during periods of deep recession. Many conservatives feel that under such economic hard times that only the government is big enough to generate demand to create jobs through stimulus spending.

        Bill Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of the investment management firm Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, and a prominent Republican, says we need “to create a demand for labor. The private sector is not going to do it.” Even if the government must do it directly, “Putting a shovel in the hands of somebody can be productive.”
        Nariman Beharavesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, a top economics forecasting firm, says that “the single-biggest risk facing both the United States and Europe is a policy mistake that would take away stimulus that is helping to hold up growth.”
        Richard A. Posner, Reagan-appointed judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, argues that “it’s worth pointing out that anything that takes money out of the economy, such as reducing federal spending or increasing federal taxes, will exacerbate the current depression. Consumers will have less money to spend, and this will discourage employers from hiring.”
        SOURCE

        Businesses create jobs, and when government fails to provide a stable view on taxation, and how much it will cost to hire new employees (Obamacare), businesses react by conserving capital, and delaying investment and hiring decisions until they can be more confident they can plan for the future.”

        This argument also seems to be without merit:

        A new research paper by two nonpartisan economists says … “While business concerns about government regulation and taxes also rose steadily from 2008 to 2011, there is no evidence that job losses were larger in states where businesses were more worried about these factors.” SOURCE

        “ …you attacked a tangential point in an argument that was otherwise focused on my contention that Mr. Woodgate fails to support his argument that James Woods’s comments are racist with adequate evidence or justification. If I had to guess what your reflexive argument to my comment was, it would be “You’re racist.” That is, of course, standard fair nowadays for the Democratic playbook.”

        That last comment was itself tangential Sean. Quit playing both sides of an argument

        ”By the way, were the Republicans the same party that said the sequester was going to destroy the economy? Have you looked at the stock market since that “recession”-auguring sequester began? Don’t you find it a bit odd that the press is strangely mum on this topic?

        I don’t think any rationale person, Democrat or otherwise made any claim that said “the sequester was going to DESTROY the economy”. That’s hyperbole Sean. The sequester is primarily hurting working families, the poor and their children as well as the elderly. Unlike the high income earners the poor cannot suffer the effects of the sequester very long without damaging the prospects of economic recovery. But don’t get too comfortable. Many economist expect the heaviest effects of the sequester will occur towards the end of this year and early next year. Then everyone will see and feel its effects.

        And for god’s sake, are you really suggesting by invoking the status of the Stock Market that the record profits of many businesses and the dividends their high income investors acquire reflects the entire economy? It’s true that the wealthiest 1% continue to see a rise in their incomes but for most everyone else wages remain not much better that they were 30 years ago. Remember Sean, trickle down economics is a joke. It simply doesn’t work. What jobs we have seen the private sector create since the financial markets were bailed out in ’08 are largely service sector jobs that barely pay over minimum wage and many without benefits along with an awful lot of part-time jobs.

        I don’t find it strange either that “the press is strangely mum” but for this issue it has a lot to do with trying to make their corporate partners look better than they really are, not because they are trying to conceal some positive economic news that has little bearing on low and middle income families.

      • “C’mon Sean. I think even you can agree that Bush and the GOP have to take some blame for the state of the economy, so a “blame Bush” response is not without some merit”

        I admitted that Bush certainly had a hand in the mess in 2008, but surely you have to agree that after 5 years in office President Obama shares blame as well? It’s kind of ridiculous to argue that one man’s shadow can cast a pall over the economy five years after leaving office.

        “…especially from a party hijacked by extremist who refuse to compromise on ANYTHING.”

        One could make the same argument about President Obama.

        “You know very well Sean that economic recovery doesn’t turn on a dime.”

        I agree, but 5 years and running and we’re still at about 7% unemployment and the recovery is still very weak with the economy at 2.4 million fewer jobs than when the recession started (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324183204578567990576913414.html).

        “Essentially, this argument is flawed Sean, especially during periods of deep recession. Many conservatives feel that under such economic hard times that only the government is big enough to generate demand to create jobs through stimulus spending.”

        My argument wasn’t against stimulus spending, it was against expansion of the federal government through direct hiring. If you offer tax rebates to consumers (case for clunkers for instance), government can help spur consumer spending and thereby help stimulate the economy.

        “This argument also seems to be without merit”

        Not so fast. Here is what is actually happening in our economy in response to Obamacare:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/papa-johns-obamacare-john-schnatter_n_2104202.html

        Or here:

        “Millions of part-time U.S. workers may see their hours cut because of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, according to a recent study.

        “The 2010 Affordable Care Act will put some 2.3 million workers at the greatest risk of reduced hours, the February study found. That group represents roughly 1.8 percent of the workforce and consists of people who do not have insurance through their employer, work between 30 and 36 hours per week and earn incomes 400 percent below the federal poverty line for firms with 100 or more employees.

        “The study, conducted by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and recently highlighted by the Los Angeles Times, attempts to place a number on what has until now been an anecdotally-based trend of employers threatening such cuts as a result of the law.

        “Beginning in 2014, larger employers may face penalties if they don’t offer health benefits deemed affordable under the law. To avoid such costs, some employers have cut the hours worked by some of its employees.”

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/07/part-time-workers-obamacare_n_3210321.html

        And no, there was no fear mongering among Democrats, just comments like this:

        “People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.”

        “Are you willing to see a bunch of emergency responders lose their jobs because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole?”

        “‘If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place,’ Obama said, it will affect military readiness and shrink crucial services. He warned that thousands of teachers and other educators will be laid off. It will affect the FBI and other emergency responders. He said the cuts will challenge the U.S.’s ability to challenge threats to different parts of the world.”

        See http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-sequester-statement-republicans-cuts-defense-military-tax-revenue-loopholes-2013-2#ixzz2aHA632sN

        “And for god’s sake, are you really suggesting by invoking the status of the Stock Market that the record profits of many businesses and the dividends their high income investors acquire reflects the entire economy?”

        No, I am suggesting that the stock market has consistently been an accurate augur for economic performance. Regarding later provisions of the sequester, it will be tough to discern whether weakening economic conditions in the future (right now, the economy is strengthening) will be due to the sequester, the new provisions of Obamacare, neither or both.

        Ok. Again, this will be my last comment on this matter as you’ll have the last word as it is your blog and I respect that.

      • ”It’s kind of ridiculous to argue that one man’s shadow can cast a pall over the economy five years after leaving office.”

        Under normal circumstances, maybe. But this isn’t blaming one man. This is his entire administration and the GOP-controlled Congress for 6 of his eight years. And if we were dealing with normal economic conditions I would agree with you. But under Bush’s watch we have had the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, some 80 years ago.

        Tell me though Sean, “after 5 years in office” how President Obama shares the blame as well for creating this economic catastrophe or what exactly hasn’t he done that could have improved conditions faster, other than a bigger stimulus package? Please don’t suggest greater tax cuts and more deregulation. That’s what got us to this point in the first place

        ”One could make the same argument about President Obama.”

        NO, one couldn’t. Who holds up administration level appointments and judgeships for partisan reasons. Who blocks raising the debt ceiling unless the wealthiest 1% also don’t have their taxes rolled back to 2001 levels? There are far more examples of compromising on Obama’s part than there were with the GOP and you would be dishonest if you didn’t recognize that Sean.

        ”I agree, but 5 years and running and we’re still at about 7% unemployment and the recovery is still very weak with the economy at 2.4 million fewer jobs than when the recession started”

        That’s down from a high of 10.1%, a rate that would have kept climbing had Bush policies remained in effect for another 6 months or a year. Where was the GOP’s effort in trying to get things under control. Remember, they have no plan other than more Reagan-style trickle down economics.

        ”My argument wasn’t against stimulus spending, it was against expansion of the federal government through direct hiring.

        Pardon me? I’m not sure where this has happened. Where has there been any government expansion by direct hiring under Obama? Last year the Bureau Of Labor Statistics reported that government employment had decreased by 608,000 since Feb. 2009 This was a direct result of Obama compromising with the GOP to lower the debt. Sadly though, these loss of jobs had a negative impact on employment rates and slowed the recovery. Federal Government Job Cuts Slowing Economic Recovery

        ”If you offer tax rebates to consumers (case for clunkers for instance), government can help spur consumer spending and thereby help stimulate the economy”

        Agreed. Something the GOP was opposed to.

        ”Not so fast. Here is what is actually happening in our economy in response to Obamacare:

        I don’t think it is all that clear at this time that this “is what is actually happening in our economy in response to Obamacare”. There’s a lot of hype by opponents right now. Some are legitimately concerned but there is more panic than calm reflection in most of their concerns. We seem to have people on both sides of this issues making credible claims. Time will tell on this one

        ”No, I am suggesting that the stock market has consistently been an accurate augur for economic performance.

        For investors and the well-to-do Sean. Jobs always lag Wall Street’s gains and optimism, but this time job rebounds are much slower than in times past and many economist are now suggesting that 6-7% unemployment may be the new norm. You may want to lay this at Obama’s feet too but this has more to do with high paying jobs being shipped overseas to cheaper labor markets and fewer workers here doing more work with the aid of new technology, including robotics. Notice if you will that while unemployment remains abnormally high, production has increased and record profits are on the books for many large companies.

        ”Ok. Again, this will be my last comment on this matter as you’ll have the last word as it is your blog and I respect that.”

        Agreed. This isn’t the first time we have been around and around on this so it’s safe to say we’ve beat this dead horse one too many times.

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