Amid a storm of finger-pointing, Democratic complaining and Republican rejoicing over Tuesday’s results, Ann Telnaes boils it all down.
There’s something not only refreshing but constructive in simply admitting they blew it, and, if her simple style doesn’t provide a lot of details, Charlie Sykes’ explanation in Politico offers not only an explanation of what happened but of why, with a hint of how the Democrats might recover, if they’re willing to put in the work.
It is an absolute must-read.
I’m becoming more and more fond of The Bulwark, the Never-Trumper site that Sykes calls home, because their loyalty is not to the Democratic Party but to the restoration of sanity in our politics.
Which is to say they also criticize Biden, but for actual reasons, not simply because he isn’t a Republican.
It makes their stances refreshingly thoughtful, in contrast to those, both conservative and progressive, who drag Biden because they feel it is the role of the commentator to reflexively attack power.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Case in point: Britt attacks Virginians, claiming that Youngkin’s victory is due to overt, toxic, potentially violent racism.
It must be conceded that, in the wake of the Charlottesville demonstrations and in light of the current trial based on those incidents, there’s plenty of overt racism and hate to be criticized.
Still, at least for those of us who lived through the days of Lester Maddox, George Wallace, Ross Barnett and others, as well as the attacks on the Freedom Riders and the murders of Medgar Evers and several Civil Rights workers, the chanting dorks of Charlottesville are pretty small potatoes, and there’s little evidence to suggest that their extremism represents the majority of voters in Virginia.
Ohman’s take is more thoughtful and seems closer to the core. It’s not that the average (white) Virginian is a vicious racist, but, rather, that they have a desire to go back to the comfortable myths they grew up with.
Steve Kelley (Creators) strikes at the heart of objections to Critical Race Theory and allied progressive messaging.
It’s fruitless to keep telling people that CRT is not taught in schools, though that’s technically the truth. The point is not what you call it, but, rather, the accompanying implication of deliberate intent on the part of average (white) Americans to oppress and degrade people of color.
There has been intent, of course: Jim Crow laws didn’t pass themselves, and there are any number of toxic customs — like black people stepping aside for white people on sidewalks, or being referred to by their first names when white people are called Mr. — that had to be directly addressed and reformed.
But suggesting conscious intent for all racism is not only counterproductive but inaccurate.
A large number of working-class white people don’t feel that they had any role in establishing this racist culture, and it’s understandable that people who struggle to pay their bills and provide for their families resent being told how privileged they are.
Again, you can argue all night over the precise meaning of “privilege,” but, as with denying CRT, you’ll be missing the point and simply alienating those who could conceivably become your allies if they didn’t feel they were being confronted, insulted and accused.
It is a much deeper infection.
Someone posted a few pages from what was reportedly the standard Virginia history text for seventh graders in the 1950s:
This is an astonishingly, patently dishonest collection of absolute falsehoods, no doubt about it.
However, the white supremacist liars who wrote, approved and assigned these horrific, self-serving fabrications 64 years ago are most likely dead by now.
What should be of concern is that, when those pages appeared on Facebook and elsewhere, several Virginians popped up to confirm that “Virginia History, Government, Geography“ was, indeed, their seventh-grade textbook, and some say tattered copies of the out-of-print book are still in use in some schools.
Yes, you may certainly hate any school administrators and teachers who still teach from this pack of racist lies.
And, hey, Virginia has just voted to confirm that parents have a right to raise hell at school board meetings, so go for it.
But, if your goal is to assemble a majority for the next elections, you need to recognize that a lot of people were taught to believe this, and that, as nonsensical and horrific as it may seem to outsiders, the myth of well-treated slaves — “too valuable to be mistreated” — is well embedded in Southern life.
As a result of this gentle indoctrination, there are many people, for instance, who thought replacing the word “darkies” would rehabilitate “My Old Kentucky Home.”
They are part of the problem, not part of the solution, but, if the goal is to find a solution, I suspect it involves less shouting and name-calling, and a lot of clipboards, shoe leather and friendly conversation.
Which doesn’t mean surrender. It is morally incumbent, for instance, to confront the overt racism and lies of Tucker Carlson, which includes confronting those who buy advertising time on Fox News at all, not simply in his time period.
But that’s only part of the solution.
It would take far more refined strategy to persuade the mainstream networks that celebrating the Scarlett O’Hara fantasies of Derby Day is also harmful, that all the fancy hats and mint juleps are simply props in an upscale minstrel show.
And yet there’s little point in sewing up the wounds if you don’t treat the underlying infection.
The challenge is not to confront but to persuade.
And the midterms are only one year away.
13 thoughts on “CSotD: The Morning After”
that Virginia text was used into the 1970s.
Is this the same Charlie Sykes from Milwaukee who had a radio show railing against Democrats, President Obama, et al? I find it difficult to believe 1) that there are two Charlie Sykes, diametrically opposed to each other; or 2) that the Charlie Sykes I knew has so much changed not only his spots, but also his stripes and his politics.
Yes, Andrea, the two Charlie Sykeses are the same guy.
Pull quote: They liken him to a pyromaniac grieving over the ashes he created, or, as former Wisconsin Democratic Chairman Mike Tate put it, “a guy who slowly fed poison to his dog for 10 years then, when the dog dies of poisoning, throws up his hands and says, ‘My God, how did that happen?’”
Sykes opposed Trump during Wisconsin’s 2016 presidential primary, the last possible opportunity to stop Trump’s steamroller ride to the GOP nomination — but when the only alternative remaining was Ted Cruz, so oh, well.
….and, btw, he was Clean for Gene, if you remember that.
Andrea — yes, same Charlie I used to switch off every morning after he reviewed the Packers game, but I agree with Mike — Sykes has made a wide turn and come around to a logical (fair and balanced?) perspective on politics.
Give him a read or listen — he’s, along with his Bulwark team, a real uplifting voice these days IMHO.
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
That quote by McAuliffe cost him the election.
A sane and reasoned analysis of what ails the Democrats and particularly the Progressive wing of the party. Few people want to think they are racist and you certainly can’t expect anyone to listen to you if they think you are insulting or talking down to them.
> being referred to by their first names when white
> people are called Mr.
Either that or “Aunt [firstname]” and “Uncle [firstname].”
Steve – thanks for that information! However, as with the members of the Lincoln Project, I don’t trust him, no matter what he – or they – NOW purport to believe. They brought this upon us, so they shouldn’t now be lookin’ for credit to attempt to fix it!
And I s’pose next ex-Milwaukee-sheriff David Clarke will turn in his ten-gallon hat and his membership in the rethuglican party, too.
This is similar to DeJoy now being lauded for opening 45 new post offices to cope with the forthcoming Holiday rush . . . no, he CAUSED the issues, so trying to fix them (albeit half-heartedly; no, make that half-assedly) doesn’t get him plaudits.
They’re all eejits, and untrustworthy. Or is that redundant?
Andrea — for what it’s worth, Charlie was never a part of the Lincoln Project and he is always pointing out Clarke’s lunacy.
But I can respect your skepticism.
Steve – No, I realize Sykes isn’t part of LP, but of the same ilk: Scared of what they brought about and becoming DINOs. Same with another Charlie who went from rethuglican to independent to Democrat – Charlie Crist, and who is now running (along with two others – do we really need to have Dems fighting among themselves?!) for governor of Florida. After the Virginia debacle, I’m not optimistic that any one of the three candidates can knock DeathSantis from his governorship.
I went to high school in Virginia (Langley HS in McLean, where Brian Bassett also went, a couple of years after I graduated) and we had two history classes…US history and Virginia history. I immediately recognizesd that text book Mike posted. And if you spend some time in the deep South (the Carolinas, Georgia), you will eventually run into someone (White, both genders) who will spout in complete sincerity, “The Blacks were better off under slavery”, reasoning that they had a steady job with free housing and meals. That is a direct result of such text books on impressionable minds.
I always enjoy these round-ups and the diversity of POVs captured, but I found the criticism here (by Peterson, not the cartoons) for what’s being cynically attacked as “CRT” to be incredibly wrong-headed. I live in the Deep South and am well-aware of everyone’s general desire to never feel criticized or asked to consider their own (likely unrealized/unintentional) culpability in anything, but especially issues involving race. That doesn’t mean it’s unproductive to offer an honest assessment of the prejudice built into so many institutions in the US, though. If not now, when? Some mystical point in the future when the Democratic Party has safely secured every seat they need for the foreseeable future?
It’s worth noting that criticisms against progressives for being “unpersuasive and unhelpful” by asking for meaningful change around racial issues is nothing new. Here’s an 1859 NYT op-ed criticizing the tone of the Abolitionist movement for hurting the cause of opposing slavery, because “silence on the part of the north concerning slavery would be the best policy.” Sounds familiar!
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