October 18, 2012

It's Funny Because We're White

Ta-Nehisi Coates notes the white privilege issue behind Tagg Romney's anger at Obama.  This reminds me so very much of the 2008 election when whites usually saw McCain's anger as a good thing.  It revealed his passion and his dedication.  But when people used the words "anger" and "Obama" in any context, with either of them, it was a negative.  Most of my white friends didn't even acknowledge this, because I really don't think they could see it.

The same thing applied to Sarah Palin and her knocked up daughter.  Put that in the Obama family, and add the "local thug father" to the picture, and the right wing would have exploded with righteous anger.  This, they would have said, revealed a lack of morality in the Obamas.  But with Sarah, it was just fine.  And in fact, was a good thing.

Now, the spoiled rich white kid of a spoiled and racist liar Mitt Romney can get away with threatening to punch Obama in the face, because, as Coates says it, "Yes because a good whippin' would teach that Obama boy to mind his place."

I don't know that Tagg Romney is a racist.  I suspect he isn't any more than the rest of us.  But that is the point of white privilege.  It doesn't even dawn on him, or any one around him how that would not work the other way around.


Smitty said...

I don't know that Tagg Romney is a racist. I suspect he isn't any more than the rest of us. But that is the point of white privilege. It doesn't even dawn on him, or any one around him how that would not work the other way around.

Yes, this, exactly. Racism is latent. Blatant racists are the subject of mockery and easily identifiable and shameless and unapologetic in their hate.

But this latent shit...it doesn't occur to, well, *us*, that maybe what we say or do is racist or sexist, especially if we have no self-awareness. So privileged are we that we simply assume *everyone* thinks like we do and experiences life the way we do.

It's no excuse. "Color-blind"...is racist. It allows someone to assume their own position is correct and universal.

(By "we" I mean the Royal We. White guys. Like me. I don't assume you're white; we've never met.)

leighton said...

Pretend for a moment that Tagg isn't racist. You call him a spoiled kid because he's acting like a spoiled kid, but it's worth repeating that he is forty-two (42) years old, with children of his own. Not only did he joke about assaulting the President, his biggest reason for not doing it was the presence of the Secret Service? That goes beyond a breach of decorum. What kind of example is that setting for his own children?

Racism may play some role, but to me, the biggest story here is that the Romneys, not content with planning to live by a different set of laws than those without obscene amounts of wealth, also expect to be able to live by different, lower standards of morality.

steves said...

I heard the comment on the CBS Morning News. What do you think should happen? How is he getting away with it? He give a 'funny' answer to a stupid question and even pointed out that he wouldn't have done it. I guess I don't see the point in speculating what would have happened if it was the other way around.

Smitty said...

It's more a commentary on latent racism and white privilege. Was it funny? Was it? Or did it smack of "put that black boy in his place?"

Maybe Tagg didn't mean to mean "put that black boy in his place." But to a whole segment of society...that's what it meant.

The mental exercise is easy to do: the black daughter of the president saying "I'd punch him in the face" would elicit all sorts of "criminal black people/lower class behavior from lower class people" commentary.

Example? Dinesh D'Souza's girlfriend on feminist academics: because of them, "[America's children] are going the way of black ghetto society."

Look at that. A comparison of a political adversary to...the lowest thing she can think of. Where was the outrage? Nowhere but on Lib blogs. Ohhhh, but she was just making a point.

Remember in the '08 campaign, all the "Obama is an angry black man/Michelle is an angry black woman" racist screed crap? All he did was...talk about what's important to him and to middle class America.

Let's review:

White privilege gets to say whatever the fuck they want, and have it ignored or excused.

Black guy runs for President, says Presidential stuff, gets analyzed as a "typical angry black man."

So no, Steve, his answer isn't very fucking funny, because he is held inappropriately to a very different standard than Obama ever was even in '08 when he didn't have to act how we expect a President to act yet.

Smitty said...

Oh...and also?

Obama called him a "liar" because he DID LIE.

So tagg wants to "punch Obama in the face" [ha ha ha!!! SOOOO funny!!!] over Obama saying something that was TRUE.

steves said...

I didn't really find it funny, hence the quotation marks. I would think that Mitt's handlers would have prepped the family for questions like that and warned them from making those kinds of comments.

With all that happened in the debate, in terms of lies, facts, and what not, I just think this is not a big deal.

Smitty said...

I wasn't ranting about your comment, in that I wasn't yelling at YOU, per se. I didn't mean "SCREW YOU STEVE," I meant "see?? That's what I'm talking about!" We shrug-off statements like that, because we perceive them as not a big deal.

I don't think it's a game-changer or will affect the campaign one way or another. I *do* think it's a perfect example of white privilege. That's my rant.

Streak said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Smitty on this. In the scheme of things, and actually in the list of white people saying things they would never allow from a black politician, this is meaningless and trivial. But it is absolutely an example of white privilege and part of the problem.

And Leighton, as usual points out the obvious part I had missed. Tagg is a goddamned grown man a few years younger than me. And he takes offense when his father is called out (rightly) for being a goddamned liar. And he doesn't think one bit that he is racist toward the sitting President. But he is.

leighton said...

I think what should happen to Tagg is exactly what is happening now: lots of people all over the place are calling his comments foolish and pointing out that they say unflattering things about his, and probably his family's, state of mind regarding what constitutes appropriate humor.

It's like Jon Stewart said regarding Ryan's botched homeless shelter photo op. Something to the effect of, you don't have to actually give a sh*t about the homeless, but if you go to all that trouble, you should at least make us think that maybe you do give a sh*t about the homeless. When your father is running for president, how hard is it to at least pretend to have a sense of decorum?

Bob said...

I say lets look for a Romney Rally, where Mr. Tagg will be. I will hold up a sign that says: "Hey Tagg, Yous Dad IS a fucking liar! Hit me instead."

I ain't no tough guy, but I would whip that blue-blood, stuck up, clueless piece of shit's ass.

Kelly K said...

Fair enough. I do agree with your assessment of white privilege.

steves said...

12Oops. The last comment was mine, but someone else had just used this computer.