Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Couple of Truths

Oy, it's going to be a long three and a half (at least) years at this rate, people. In the interest of national sanity, I'd like to drive home a couple of truths to both sides of the political spectrum.

First, to the right-of-center/GOPer side of things. Just because we as a nation have elected a black man president does not mean that we have entered a colorblind Utopia. We still have a lot of racial baggage left in this country to work through. Keep that in mind.

Second, to the left-of-center/Dem side of things. Just because we have a black president doesn't mean that every criticism of the man and/or his policies is racist. Yes, the monkey references obviously tap into a long history of white depictions of blacks as animals. But not everything fits that mold.

The latest kerfuffle involves someone who put up a bunch of posters in the Los Angeles area with Obama done up to look like The Joker (specifically, the nightmare crazy Heath Ledger version, not the sort of fun kind of crazy Jack Nicholson version):

Some folks argue that the poster is racist (via Volokh), but that argument seems tenuous, at best. More likely is that the artist (and he's hardly alone - search "Obama Joker" in Google Images and see what pops up) latched onto the latest pop culture bad guy as a reference - a character that even those who don't know Batman from Robin know is a seriously bad dude. It's not racist.

It is stupid, though. As Alice at Concurring Opinions points out, Ledger's Joker is anything but a socialist and is an avowed anarchist. If anything, it's another example that shows most folks who hurl that term around as an epithet don't actually know what it means.

Years ago, when the statewide radio talk show had an old lion liberal newspaper editor in the mix, he would frequently respond to callers who tarred him as a socialist exactly what the term meant. Sputtering indignation usually followed. Sadly, things haven't changed in the intervening years.

No comments: