Monday, March 17, 2014

The call is coming from inside the house!

Didn't they make him a Cardinal?

I used to have this book; darned if I know what happened to it.  Maybe it's still on a shelf somewhere under this roof, but I'm not going to stop now to look.  Anyway, it's the title that appeals to me because we are still doing pretzel twists to deny the reality of venality and racism.  It appeals to me because the idea of sin is that we're all involved in it; "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Brian Beutler this morning opines that what Paul Ryan said about "inner city culture" is worse than we think (really?) because maybe Ryan isn't an overt racist; maybe it's worse, maybe he's a covert racist:

But let’s assume Ryan’s playing it straight, and his defenders, like Slate’s Dave Weigel, are correct when they argue that this is just how Ryan and other conservatives “think about welfare’s effects on social norms.” If that’s true, it’s actually a bigger problem for the right. If Ryan was even a little bit aware of how people would interpret his remarks, or understood the reaction to them when it exploded online, we could just say that some conservatives want to play the Southern Strategy at least one more round, and leave it at that. Close the book on this controversy, without drawing any larger conclusions about the state of conservative self-deception.

But if Ryan genuinely stumbled heedless into a racial tinderbox then it suggests he, and most likely many other conservatives, has fully internalized a framing of social politics that was  to appeal to white racists without regressing to the uncouth language of explicit racism, and written its origins out of the history. If that’s the case it augurs poorly for those in the movement who are trying to broaden the Republican Party’s appeal, because it’s easier to convince people to abandon a poor tactic than to unlearn rotten ideology.
Racism, in other words, is not a matter of intent (which limits it to skinheads and neoNazis and the remaining David Duke's of the world), it's a matter of culture.  It's simply a matter of attitude, of presumption, of fundamental thinking.  And it's as easy as having a political opinion, or a notion of what public policy should be.

We have met the enemy, and he looks a lot like us.

The beginning of wisdom is the recognition that you are involved in the situation, not just observing it.

1 comment:

  1. In his book, I Don't Believe in Atheists, Chris Hedges talks at length about how dangerous it is that people have given up a belief in sin, something that confused me when I first read it but which has become more obvious as I'm exposed to more of the world through the internet. I think that refusal to acknowledge the reality of evil and the temptation to do evil, to harm other people, animals, living beings and the environment we live in, is at the center of the hollowing out of both liberalism and so much of the religion whose existence is meaningless unless the constant determination to not do those things, to fight against those things being done is engaged in. Real liberalism has to consciously be aware of the personal temptation to do evil and to consistently resist it. Which is about as unfashionable an idea as it is possible to imagine.

    There's a world of difference between trying to be a moral person, both personally and civically, and the stock character of the moralist set up in popular literature and entertainment. The second one brings disrepute to the first one. Maybe the second one is inspired by the devil for the purpose of bringing disrepute to the first one. The difference between the two is the recognition of personal guilt and personal vulnerability, remaining low due to that consciousness.