Showing posts with label PC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PC. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On Asking "What if Race is more than a social construct?"

A friend recently sent me to an article "What if Race is more than a social construct?" by Margaret Wente in the (Toronto) Globe and Mail more or less a review of

A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History
The title of Wente's article: It takes aim at a troublesome postmodern-ish tendency of the last decade or so of calling race a "social construct".  One of its major themes is a favorite meme of the right: "Why can't liberals be rational about race?" Why all these taboos on what words are proper?  Why can't we just follow science wherever it leads (supposedly)?
   I can sympathize with one reaction to the "social construction" construct.  Aren't there really a lot of differences in skin color, hair, shape of facial features which we did not strictly speaking imagine?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Obama & The Human Stain" (from Canada Free Press)

This Jewel can be found at
It is very badly argued in my opinion, but someone I care about was much taken with it, so I feel a need to say something about it.

The whole title is "Obama & The Human Stain: Or How Political Correctness Gave America a Con-Man President".  I was wondering how much notice this publication got, so did these checks:
 Google { "Canada Free Press" } ==> 245,000 hits (up from 207,000 earlier today)
         Their motto is "Because without America there is no Free World"
 Google { "Obama & The Human Stain" } ==> 883 hits

Well, the article is only 2 days old.  It is posted in full on (with enthusiastic discussion) and has several links from  Obviously these are two of many, but are one's I'm familiar with (the person I care about frequently reads

The major claims:
  Claim 1: (implied) Obama owes his election to "PC".  This comes in the form of a question: Could Barack have been elected president without the doctrine known as Political Correctness? The author's answer, without giving any reasons is that the "vast majority of Americans" know this.  Oh, before giving that answer, he asked rhetorically "Or is simply to ask the question an unforgivable act of racism?".  This illustrates, in my opinion, how people who read only right wing news sources get their ideas about how "liberals" think.  Rush Limbaugh, for one, spends more time telling listeners what Liberals think, than he does telling what he thinks.
   Claim 2: "Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism", and it was invented (much as the evil southerners played by Lloyd Bridges and Burl Ives invented sharecropping and the KKK in just one little conversation in the mini-series Roots) by the Frankfurt School, a bunch of disappointed Marxists, in the 1920s and 30s.  It turns out that the slogan "Political Correctness is Cultural Marxism" goes back about 20 years, maybe to Pat Buchanan, or perhaps he got it from someone earlier.  The best I can make of this is that "Political Correctness" has come to stand for all sorts of things, and especially Post-modernism, which the Frankfurt was very instrumental in bringing about.  I have never known PC to stand for anything other than an often excessive avoidance of old pejorative labels or doctrines (such as inherent mental or moral differences between races) that have come to be associated with past horrors like the Nazi Holocaust.
    Claim 3: Obama is a "malignant narcissist" which is a very bad thing.

In Philip Roth's The Human Stain, a professor wonders out loud whether 2 students registered for his class, who never showed up, were real or "spooks".  Because they just happen to be black unbenownst to the professor, he is duly crucified.  The writer tends to make a lot of associations that don't add up to anything; e.g., he seems to think The Human Stain is particularly relevant because both Barack Obama and the professor (mischevously and un-PC-ishly named Coleman Silk) are of mixed race (the professor's part-black ancestry is unknown, which is the Great irony(!!) of the book).

The article writer manages to work in, in the space of 2 pages, four bits of seeming erudition meant, I think, to impress, but in my opinion, one after the other fails to serve any real purpose in the essay.  There is
  1. Philip Roth's "tome" as he calls it.  OK the book addresses PC, which the writer claims is the key to Obama's election, and it has a mixed race protagonist.  But the discussion of The Human Stain does nothing to support the claim about Obama and PC.  I'm afraid it may just be emotionally gratifying because Human Stain free-associates with "black" as well as with "bad".  Also a mixed race professor happens to get crucified, hoisted on his own petard, which I expect the author would like to see happen to Obama.
  2. He also introduces Melville's The Confidence Man, only as far I can see as a fancy way to call Obama a Con-man.  He even shows off that he knows something about a real like case that help to inspire the book.  But does he give any example of Obama acting as a con-man?  No; much less relate any such example to Melville's subject.  He just says "like with Obama, the scam could not be pulled off without well-meaning but fatuously (that will send some people to the dictionary!) naive people ready to be conned.  Did he fail to notice that in many if not most cases, the big con is based on the greed of the victim, who thinks he has by some luck been given a secret advantage over other people.  No, in his circle to mention that would be politically incorrect, because greed is good.
  3. We are to be impressed again by her knowledge of the Frankfort School, though no more is said about them than could be found in a one volume encyclopedia.  It's just that they were evil Marxists, and they invented PC.  I'm old enough to have observed PC evolving -- the awkward stumbling over "man vs person", chairwoman  or chairperson, "black", "Persons of color", Afro-Americans, and most recently, "slaves" must be replaced with "Enslaved persons".  It can go too far, and people on occasion get hurt, as they get hurt by other sometimes useful things, like automobiles.  If it is all totally dismissed with contempt, we will again see Sambo and big-nosed ugly caricatures of Jews in our editorial cartoons.  Won't that be great?  The point seems to be I suppose that everybody was cowed from being critical of Obama out of "PC" because he was black.  That's not the way I remember it.  I've never seen the image of a presidential candidate and later president so trashed.  The thing one will get crucified for is saying there is the least element of race in it when Obama is called an "alien"; when it is said that he is obsessed with colonialism and vengefulness towards white, "proven" by writings of his father, for whom he seems to have faint and mixed feelings despite the title of the book, if one actually reads it.
  4. Finally, we have an "expert" on narcissism, Sam Vaknin who sees signs of this "full-blown mental disorder" in Obama.  Perhaps I should go further into this, but not today I'm afraid.

Finally, in a summary, the piece breaks down into pure unsupported raving, and says "he must be impeached from office for the survival of the American Republic".

OK, but can you tell us why, and avoid saying "everybody knows"?