Why Is One Man’s Racism Another Man’s Comedy?

Author: July 10, 2011 1:49 pm

Image from http://thecomfortzonediversity.blogspot.com/2011/02/end-racism.html

There’s a Facebook friend in my social network, from Denver, Colorado, a man of the Left, who insists that race isn’t a factor with the Left’s so-called disillusionment with the President.

I disagree.

Of course, race factors into the Left’s perception of the President and his performance, as much – if not more, in a different way – than it does on the Right. It was always going to factor. If Hillary Clinton had won the nomination and the election, the question of gender and her response to certain situations based on the fact that she was a woman, would always be cause for comment and speculation. Certainly, Jack Kennedy’s Catholicism and its adherence to the supremacy of Rome, was a mitigating factor for some during his brief Administration.

This is a seminal Presidency, the first time an African-American is Commander-in-Chief.

Having come of age during the Seventies, when the newly-born Progressives were driving the agendae of the Democratic Party with their quest for ensuring equality through Affirmative Action, I watched, often from the sidelines, when the first woman or the first African-American man (or woman) ascended to some post or position heretofore only inhabitable in the realms of the omnipotent white male. Suffice it to say, in each instance, that the performance standard was raised just enough, to ensure that the seminal appointment would either burn out in trying to achieve a success easily achievable by his or her white brethren, or fail. Few failed. Many achieved, but at a cost.

In those days, on the Right, you had administrators who hated the thought of having to compromise their sexism or racism (or both) and who could barely contain their disdain at having whom they considered to be lesser beings in positions of responsibility and authority. Those sorts were easily recognizable.

Worse, were the supposedly enlightened people of the Left, the ones who went out of their way to refer to any female appointee as “Ms” or who made a great show of lunching with “the black guy” and showing friendly in the office – only to shake his head and tut-tut almost reprovingly each time the slightest error was made, often rolling his eyes as he glanced over his shoulder at the rest of the crew, the action wordlessly admitting, “See, I told you so. Have to show them everything.”

And so they would hover. And explain. And assume. And breathe a sigh of relief when the woman or “the black guy” would move to a different department or job. Or he’d seethe silently, if such person deservedly got a promotion he had perceived to be his and his alone.

You can see this now.

We’ve been able to see it from the Right as far back as the Tea Party’s inception in 2009. It was a poor masquerade to hide behind words like “socialist” or “communist” or “Marxist” or even “Nazi,” especially when those words accompanied signs which depicted the President as an African tribal chief or a monkey.

But from the Left, it’s revealed itself in stages and some subtely and by voices whom the media willingly identifies as “Progressive”. Ah, but these voices made it abundantly obvious to the hoi polloi who hung on their every word, that their criticism of the President had everything to do with his “policy” and nothing to do with his race – which, of course, prompted that noted “policy” critic and Progressive, Glenn Greenwald, to begin almost immediately to refer to any of the President’s supporters as “Obamalovers” and to use that phrase viciously and in such circumstances, that it wasn’t difficult for anyone to realise that “Obamalover” was a euphemism for that timeworn old George Corley Wallace phrase of “n*ggerlover.” Even Joan Walsh is using the same phrase with aplomb now, but Joan’s racism is quickly becoming an open issue in many areas of the Left.

And as for Greenwald’s Progressivism, this is the man who writes for the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute. This is the man who openly embraces the Citizens United decision, who supports Gary Johnson for President of the United States, a man who wants child labor laws rescinded, who wants the Department of Education dismantled and the EPA finished. Yes, Greenwald, who doesn’t vote and who never has, is an identifiable Progressive.

Ever since the beginning of this Administration, one of its most vociferous critics, Rush Limbaugh, hasn’t been too good to bring race into the fray. He mocks the President and his family on this score from his radio pulpit on a regular basis, employing stereotypical voices and musical soundbytes. Rightwing personalities have created pictures of the White House lawn turned into a watermelon patch.

All of this is disgusting and openly racist and has been decried as such by people from the Left and by some on the Right who still retain a conscience and a modicum of common sense.

But what happens when this sort of thing emanates from the Left?

Well, then, it becomes comedy.

How is Bill Maher’s repeated reference to the President as “President Sanford and Son” any different from Limbaugh’s depiction as such, using the Sanford and Son music as a backdrop to his criticism? Fred Sanford, a comic figure, was the quintessential lazy and feckless black man, unable to come to terms with modern life, a bumbler, who witlessly called upon a higher power (his dead wife) whenever his luck ran out.

Rush can ride that pony with impunity. Such tastelessness is what is expected from someone who joked that he’d like to own an NFL franchise because he fancied owning some black men. But Bill Maher regularly identifies himself as a “Progressive.” How does he tie in a Sanford depiction of a President whom, at various times when the political fashion dictates, he perceives to be weak? Why “President Sanford and Son” instead of “President Barney Fife,” another bumbler and stumbler, who happened to be white?

Then there’s the disappointment that the stereotype hasn’t been fulfilled. Throughout the Gulf Crisis, Maher and his cronies screamed for the angry black man to emerge. Today’s radical chic, many of whom were in middle school watching Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, still think of a black man as a cross between Clarence Williams III playing Linc in The Mod Squad and Stokely Carmichael; everybody else was either Flip Wilson, Bill Cosby or Diahann Carroll playing Julia.

Maybe this is why, during the summer of 2010, Maher whined during a monologue that when he voted for Obama, he thought he was voting for a real black man, a mothafucka gangsta who’d strike fear into the Cabinet by pounding the table with his fist, then opening his jacket to reveal a gun on his hip. Instead of “President Sanford and Son,” we now get “President Clarence Carmichael” with a soupcon of Mister Tibbs. So Bill voted for John Shaft and got Cliff Huxtable, which subsequently allowed him – not once, but twice – to declare the President a “pussy” on national television, once on Fareed Zakaria’s program in November 2010, and then on his own show some two weeks ago.

Mark Halperin describes the President as a “dick” and gets an indefinite suspension, and rightly so. Bill Maher calls the President a “pussy” and gets laughter.

Go figure.

Ah, but Bill’s a comedian. He’s a wannabe political pundit who’s invited on any and all political opinion shows to talk politics, but when something like this occurs – hey, he’s a comedian. It’s for laughs, folks.

Like Jon Stewart, who’s an acknowledged comedian, but whom people really do consider a newsman or a political pundit. So when Stewart, when satirizing African-American Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, by using a voice straight from Amos’n Andy, is surprised when Cain considers this racist, I’m surprised that Stewart is surprised.

Herman Cain has a Southern accent – which, I presume, Stewart, who was educated in Virginia, is channelling. But I wonder how coincidental it is that Stewart’s Southern accent, employed for his Cain satire, sounds suspiciously like that of Kingfish Stevens, who – like Fred Sanford – came to represent a feckless, less-than-honest and lazy portrayal of a black man?

I am not saying Stewart is racist or even knowingly so. With Maher, I have my doubts. He’s too much the Left Coaster and also has too many Rightwing sympathies (death penalty, racial profiling, anti-union) and associations (Arianna Huffington, Darrell Issa, Bill Frist), that a thinly disguised veneer of racism wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

And when this is the case amongst those whom we deem “our own” on the Left, we have to acknowledge our shortcomings too; because I’ve always perceived the Left to have the same problem with the Obama Presidency as Scarlett had with Prissy. Prissy was the recalcitrant slave who just wouldn’t do what Miss Scarlett said until Miss Scarlett snapped and slapped her, which is what I get the impression the Professional Left and their sheeple would like to do with this recalcitrant President, who just doesn’t do as they say when they say and how they say.

This attitude is summed up brilliantly by the blogger rootless_e, writing in The People’s View about Paul Krugman’s litany of disillusionment with the Obama Presidency (which Jonathan Alter in his bookThe Promise puts down to the fact that Krugman has been angling for a Cabinet post since 1992 and hasn’t secured one):-

…I have no more patience for “progressives” who want to tell the President and the rest of us us what to say and how to talk – and that’s the underlying substance of Professor Krugman’s critique, the failure of the President to stick the script that the progressives have written. The President, however, is not Mr. Krugman’s graduate assistant and he’s not the errand boy.

It’s as I’ve always said: The Right don’t like the fact that there’s a black man in the White House who isn’t serving coffee, and the Left doesn’t like the fact that there’s a black man in the White House who’s smarter than they are and who doesn’t do what they order.


facebook comments:


  • most of that stuff you wrote about Glenn Greenwald is not true. u might wanna delete it before you get sued. the only writing he did for the cato institute was about drug decriminalization. that’s it. the rest is patently false.

  • Second Amendment Democrat

    Racism is an individual thing, we each have to deal with it within ourselves as we accept/encourage/agree with certain stereotypes – the lazy Mexican (or lazy black man) the dumb Pole, the Mafiosi Italian. And it certainly does cumulatively have an effect on perception, even if we don’t agree or wish to hold any such prejudice. Stereotype are very hard to ignore, you don’t even see them till they bite you.

    And labels are stereotypes – Progressive, Liberal, Conservative, Nazi, Socialist – they just identify a paradigm FROM THE PAST which is intended to elicit present responses.

    But the FACTS are ONLY ACTIONS. What did someone DO, not what did they SAY (except promises are actions, not just empty rhetoric, even in campaigns.)

    And I care less what color, sexual orientation, gender, age, party name, eye color or foot size the individual in the President’s seat has. What I DO care about is the promises made to the people and how they have NOT been kept. So far, all I see is a go-along-get-along speech-maker. He talks a good game, but folds – EVERY TIME, so far. Which says to me that he IS failing at his job – unless it is all a mask and, as I strongly suspect, he really is on the same side as the Koch-suckers…

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I hope I am wrong. But I can’t convince myself that the man I trusted to reclaim the United States of America is just another pawn in the AFP/Koch etc. fascist agenda. And it has nothing to do with race (except to ask the question how do you convince the South, historically Democrats, to vote Republican? Answer – elect a Black Democrat as president…)

  • I must applaud you for being consistent with your principles and for calling out both sides when they infringe upon those principles, rather than claiming it’s different when moonbats do it and anyone who says otherwise is guilty of “false equivalency.” Moonbats like yourself who are so consistent with your principles are rarer to find than the Flying Spaghetti Monster sipping the celestial teapot under a blue moon.

    That being said, I’ve always found the moonbat standard of what qualifies as “racism” to be rather low, and I mean so low that, if it were a limbo stick, an anorexic couldn’t pass under it. It’s always seemed to me that the moonbat standard for racism is basically saying anything negative about someone of a different skin color; wheras my personal standard for racism is the irrational hatred of someone because of their skin color. That seems more consistent of what racism actually is.

    And I find it laughable that you think Affirmative Action is necessary to bring about equality and end racism, when the very thing is both unequal and racist. Think about it: under Affirmative Action, employers are forced to consider race rather than merit when hiring employees. If that’s not discrimination, I don’t know what is.

    And you claim that Republicans hate the fact that a black man is president—something that has been oft repeated by so many moonbats, and apparently started by the queen moonbat Janeane Garofalo. While I don’t agree with the Republicans, if theys truly hate black people in politics, why would they accept black politicians such as Herman Cain, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, and Michael Steele?

    Finally, I completely LOL’d at this:

    “And as for Greenwald’s Progressivism, this is the man who writes for the Koch-founded and funded Cato Institute. This is the man who openly embraces the Citizens United decision, who supports Gary Johnson for President of the United States, a man who wants child labor laws rescinded, who wants the Department of Education dismantled and the EPA finished. Yes, Greenwald, who doesn’t vote and who never has, is an identifiable Progressive.”

    Oh my, how horrible! How dreadful! That man sounds insane—fully reasonable, in my honest opinion!

  • I don’t hate Obama, I just think he is a near total failure. I also think that he is right-of-center and that this is the political philosophy that has ruined our country over the past 40 years. He can be as middle of the road as he wants — he’ll just continue to lose his progressive base while Republicans paint his moderation as Socialism. I was a strong supporter of the President, but will no longer support his re-election. It’s a simple matter of who will drive us off the cliff sooner: Moderate corporate Democrats traveling at 60 MPH or ultra-right Republicans who will take us there at 120 MPH? It doesn’t really matter, we’ll take that plunge one way or the other. Oh, and if anything, his being African-American was a huge plus for me…. he just blew his chance at being a transformational President.

    Oh, and the author tends to only attack the left… and to accuse them of racism. So, he/she is pretty much guilty of the sort of attacks that he/she condemns in others. Perhaps we’ve all had enough of this center-on-left verbal violence?

  • I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being centrist, but I do think there’s something wrong with writing biased articles with no perspective. A lot of the racism out there is very real, and comparing things intended to be comedy to it doesn’t make any sense. Even if you don’t think racial stereotypes should ever be a basis for comedy, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the fact that it often is and take the words of comedians as something to be taken seriously. If this article was focused on comedy in general, it would’ve been fine, but it wasn’t. It tried to equate a joke to actual racism without even considering that somewhat racist jokes have been a part of comedy for real. As for the “Practically worship Obama” part, I didn’t mean that in a literal sense either. I meant it more as treating him above other people, not as a literal worship. As for why I reacted the way I did, it’s because this article was completely illogical and didn’t separate actual racism from comedy. It’s just attacking someone for no real reason.

  • Well, the difference is that Bill Maher is kidding. He’s a comedian. Trying to say he isn’t would be kind of stupid, considering he still does stand up and is show on HBO is political SATIRE. Maher isn’t a rascist, he’s a comedian. Why the hell aren’t you criticizing the vast majority of other successful comedians who occasionally have “racist” jokes? Probably because you aren’t interested in telling the truth, you’re interested in attacking Bill Maher, then acting as if “the Left” is full of rascists, probably because you’re a centrist, practically worship Obama, or both. There’s a big difference between a joke involving racial stereotypes and being a rascist, and anyone with half a brain could figure it out. Honestly, this article should be pulled because it’s complete crap and more biased than what one would typically see on Fox News.

    • Who are you talking to? The author or me?

      As far as I’m concerned those “jokes” or “satire” are not funny in the slightest. And it doesn’t matter who is saying them.

      “Practically worship Obama”? Are you for real? I don’t know of anyone who worships Obama. He’s a human politician. One who happens to be our current President.

      Instead of using the intellectually lazy responses (like “practically worship Obama”), how about talking about specific things? With facts behind them.

      What leads you to believe that being center of the road, politically, is wrong? Neither side is all wrong, or all right. And there are many more than two ways to do something correctly.

      I’m not sure why you have reacted so explosively. What the author said, for the most part, makes sense. As for only targeting the left, targeting the right has been done to death about this. Pretty much anything more about their racism is redundant.

      And,of course, there are a lot on both sides of the spectrum that aren’t racist. You just don’t hear about them as frequently because it is not news.

  • First let me say that I’m a Democrat. Not a Progressive or a Liberal. I am a Democrat. And I say that proudly. We have been a continuous political party in this country since 1790. As all party’s have changed over time so has the Democrats.

    I believe that everyone has the right to be treated equally, that religion has no business in Government, that Government has no business in religion, and that a successful nation takes care of it’s poor and disabled and it’s Veteran’s. I believe that the US Constitution should be followed, even when the outcome of something is not what we wanted or agree with.

    IMO, Bill Maher is not a comedian, although he used to be. I, also, do not believe that he is a Democrat or a Progressive, whatsoever. I think that he is out for himself only with no honor or ideological leanings to either side. And, yes, I consider him a racist.

    Jon Stewart is part comedy/part political pundit. From what he seems to think is funny, I agree that he is a racist. But I, also, don’t watch his show.

    The hate that seems to be consuming more and more of the US is, I believe, racist. Even though so many people seem not to realize it.

    In my 52 years, I have never seen a President treated with so much lack of respect and open hate as Obama is. And he has done nothing to cause it. I have seen even friend who I admire on most subjects say that Obama is an empty suit and a puppet. But he is not able to specify why.

    Our President is a Harvard Law School graduate. He graduated with Honors. He was a Civil Rights Attorney, a member of an educational board, a best selling author, a member of a State Legislature, a US Senator and, yes, a Community Organizer. None of this is anything to be looked down on, let along pushed aside as though it doesn’t matter.

    Why are so many people determined to believe lies? It’s not like the lies are difficult to prove wrong. The people of the US are deliberately choosing to believe them, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

    I was reading a comment online where someone said that Obama had promised to bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq by March 2011. No, he didn’t say that at all. He said, BEFORE Bush made an exit plan for Iraq, that he would bring our troops out of Iraq within a year, depending on what was happening on the ground there. He said that we shouldn’t have redirected our troops from Afghanistan in the first place, and that he would reverse that, and focus on what was needed there. He never said that he would bring our troops home from there within a year. Not one time.

    So, why are so many people unwilling to look up what he actually said as opposed to what the talking heads said that’s what he said?

    I don’t know if what is behind all of this is just racism, or just hate, or a combination of the two. I do know that this has been building up since before the 2004 elections. And it was done deliberately by Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly. Murdoch’s FoxNews has been behind a large bit of it, as have NewsMax and the Net World Daily. All of what these people and entities have been saying, and building on, is that everyone on the left is trying to destroy our own country, which is obviously (to me, at least) just plain wrong. Half of this country has chosen to believe these lies, that go against even common sense.

    I think that the hate, and it IS hate, is because Obama is black, along with the fact that he is a Democrat, and a middle of the road one at that.

    • No trust me it isn’t because he is Black, they had a love affair because he’s half black and his father is a black Muslim. Its not hate, its rebuttal, the love affair has warn off and now people are starting to see the truth. He’s a billionaire, he is getting paid $450.000 a year, in two terms that almost adds up to $4.000.000. He’s built a huge nuke plant, yet he has not really solved the debt problem and is still getting richer.

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