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August 6, 2007

more and better liberal bloggers


Dear Crooks and Liars,

Thank you for deleting this post from your site: Bonds Ties Aaron; Say It Ain't So.

Bonds is an asshole and (by all indications) a cheat, but this section from the deleted post - a rather rote lament about Barry Bonds' 755 HR by Mark Groubert - was, as they say, completely beyond the pale:

Aaron had seen the ugliness of segregation, Jim Crow, lynchings and separate but equal schools. He had ridden the buses through spring training in the Deep South. He had felt the pain of Jackie Robinson. He was one of the Apostles.

Bonds is new school. Bonds is Kobe Bryant. Bonds is Michael Vick. Bonds is O.J. Simpson.

Uncritically proffering how, once upon a time, there were good, suffering, holy Negroes, and now all we have are selfish ballers, dog-fighters and double murderers, is, well, you frickin' knew what it is, Crooks and Liars, which is why you disappeared the post in question from your site. (Too bad for Feedburner, eh?)

Chris Rock can run this particular gag forever if he feels like it (and for the record, it was dumb when he did it, too), but, as Dave Chappelle's professional seppuku indicates, white and black folks don't process self-critical or self-examining black discourses in exactly the same way. Even if you take away the race of the sources, though, Groubert doesn't even get the cloak of misfired comedy that Rock does, as his post was written in compete seriousness and earnestness, right down to the "RIP, oh, sweet beloved game!" kicker.

(Is this Groubert 16 or something? I was sixteen once, so I'm not shitting on it. But now I'm, like, 38 - double 16 plus! - so I have a hard time connecting to that kind of maudlin, overcooked sentiment.)

Aggressively stupid and inelegant white commentary like Groubert's is precisely why black folks poll so differently from the W's on the Bond/juice controversy:

However, race plays a unique role. Black fans in the survey are more than twice as likely to want Bonds to break Aaron's record (74 percent to 28 percent), and 37 percent of black fans think Bonds used steroids, compared to 76 percent of white fans.

Blacks are nearly twice as likely to think Bonds has been treated unfairly (46 percent to 25 percent). Why? The survey found that 41 percent of black fans think this is due to the steroids issue, 25 percent think it's because of his race, and 21 percent blame Bonds' personality.

For whites who think Bonds has been treated unfairly, 66 percent blame steroids. Virtually none blame race. [full item]

More than 37% of black people "think" Bonds used steroids. The question is how many black people a day stop caring after reading items like Groubert's. I mean, I wasn't there getting huge with Bonds; maybe all the people who are claiming he took steroids are race-morons like Groubert? I am personally pretty convinced Bonds injected steroids into his body and all, but I stopped experiences any measurable outrage about it five or six dumb-ass, Groubert-style commentaries ago. It's just kind of low on my list of outrages, truth be told. As I see it, Barry Bonds is a guy who gets paid to wear pajamas and hit a ball, whereas Mark Groubert is writer who spends his day wrestling with language, truth, morality, et cetera, so which sin do you think is going to rank higher for your droog and humble narrator? As my Clarion classmate Derek Zumsteg has pointed out in his book The Cheater's Guide to Baseball, cheating is actually a part of the national pastime, whereas racism is purportedly an unforgivable lapse here in Liberal Blogstania.

To me, Groubert's post is like swearing the Iraqis are going to welcome the US Army with open arms, or being a Democrat and voting for the crap FISA amendment last week. It undermines a certain kind of credibility for me, which is why, to this day, I can't look at Jane Hamsher without seeing Blackface Joe. Hamsher created a nice site and all, but she has no credibility with me on questions of race, racism, ethnicity and never will. Yet these she is on TV, blond white superliberal incarnate. But that's just me being silly. Who needs in-born expertise on "questions of race, racism, ethnicity," when you can just split the difference and invite a few coloreds over to guest-blog?

The regularity of these incidents underscores the sad fact that shared affiliation (party or otherwise) or common disgust with the current political climate is no guarantor that a given white liberal blogger will be able to talk about race and people of color without coming off like a regressive moron. The folks at Crooks and Liars at least had the decency to disappear the offending post, which beats the enraged belligerence you often encounter when you raise this genre of concerns, as in Hamsher's assertion that complaints about Blackface Joe were just "ginned up controversy," "faux indignation in attempt to further distract from the issues important to the voters." (darkblack, the artist who actually created the image, understood the problems with the image to his/her eternal credit.) Hamsher's take is, of course, bullshit. But in much the same way that being wrong about Iraq won't keep you off the Sunday op-eds, being an unconscious, unrepentant race-moron won't keep you from representing the progressive family on TV.

But thanks again, C&L! Having the strength to hit delete beats being dumb forever.



Posted by ebogjonson in race and other identities, on August 6, 2007 8:26 AM


I'm afraid you don't know Jane Hamsher -- a friend of mine. I don't argue with the offensiveness of the blackface image, nor does Jane, who on several occasions has (1) apologized and (2) said it was a mistake, which is why she pulled it very soon after it went up. But the image -- the metaphor -- was about Joe Lieberman pretending to be someone he wasn't -- a loyal friend of Afro-Amer- voters at a time he was demonizing Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and sending race-baiting signals to Republicans in Connecticut because these two men had endorsed Lamont. That was the point of the post, however badly it misused the image.

Jane's comment about the faux controvery was not a defense of the image -- again she admits that was wrong -- but a comment on how it was used by Lieberman's campaign as a distraction in his fight against Lamont, who had nothing to do with the image.

And Jane happens to be a white woman, but so what? CNN asked her to go on CNN to talk about Yearly Kos, the convention she had just attended; she didn't go on presuming to represent people of color but rather to talk about other issues.

I hope you get to meet Jane someday, but in the meantime, an open mind on who she is and what she thinks would be helpful.

Posted by: Scarecrow at August 6, 2007 12:24 PM

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