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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some People Like Bananas More Than Others . . .


Click the picture above for an article on a racism issue of the day.

9 comments:

  1. Wow.

    Okay. Fine. I usually try to avoid the bait, but we haven't done one of these in awhile (at least not since the last time you posted, probably).

    Let me make sure I get this straight. This is the conclusion I understand this article to be making: portraying African-Americans with simian characteristics is racist because established white society once used Darwin's theories regarding evolution to justify their behavior towards blacks. I'm with you there.

    Because Obama is a proponent of evolution, therefore, he is as racist as the whites who used to believe that blacks were an evolutionary step closer to apes than whites.

    Wrong.

    Sorry, I don't buy it. What bible-thumping conservative whacks don't seem to realize is that evolution didn't stop with Darwin. It isn't like the evolution being taught today continues to teach that blacks are evolutionarily less than whites. Yes, his work was the foundation of evolution, but it isn't like everything Darwin purported is still being taught verbatim. Darwin's theories were just something the whites of the time latched onto to justify their self-appointed superiority.

    That article seems to be saying that anyone who advocates the teaching of evolution is racist because evolution was once used to justify societal racism. Fine then.

    I once heard that a lot of slave owners back in the day went to church and read the bible, and believed they were better than their African-American slaves. Some whites even believed THE BIBLE itself said they were superior to blacks. By this article's logic, I guess that means the bible, and by extension, anyone who reads it or follows its teachings, is racist too.

    Here's another one: black face is generally considered racist because it is linked to the vaudevillian minstrel shows of the early 20th century, in which whites blacked their faces and played up the stereotypes about blacks for laughs. The motion picture industry as we know it grew out of the vaudeville tradition that included minstrel shows and black face. Thus, by this article's logic, Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Clint Eastwood, anyone who's ever made an American movie, is just as racist as the vaudeville performers who played up African-American stereotypes for laughs.

    I've forgotten most of my classical argument fallacies, but that kind of argument has got to fit one of them.

    Evolution was once used as instrument of racism. Therefore, anyone who today advocates the teaching of evolution is racist. Sorry, I just don't buy it.

    PS I love how nowadays conservative writers always refer to Obama by his full name, as if by reminding people that his middle name is "Hussein" they might somehow change the fact that he's president.

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  2. You said it much better than i could have. FTW, Teebore. FTW

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  3. I took a couple months off from the blog. I thought it was a leisurely thing to do.

    So, to poke the fire -

    I think you missed the point of the article slightly. The point I ascertain is racism is alive today (of course) as it always has been. The question the article asks is why is portraying a black man or woman as a monkey racist whereas portraying a white man (President Bush) not?

    One of the conclusions it makes is people use the imagery to demean the person or to put it in another way to say that the target is less “evolved” than others.

    Obviously this tactic of offensive behavior stems from the evolutionary theory. Or to put it another way, these people are using the evolutionary theory to demean another.

    With or without evolution, people are going to demean one another - It’s human nature.

    From the last paragraph in the article-

    And his advisers would do well to advise the President that the only effective solution to combating racism is to actively teach creation, not evolution—and so return to a biblical worldview. Man was made in the image of God, not from any ape or monkey. No descendant of apelike creatures ever aspired to become US President, let alone was elected—regardless of President Obama’s opinion to the contrary.

    I disagree with this conclusion. Obviously, there had to be racism in Biblical times. I’m sure the Egyptians had plenty of slurs for their slaves.

    Not every evolutionist is a racist just as everyone who believes in the Bible is not a “whack job”. However, many leading evolutionists have eloquently commented with-

    You cannot be both sane and well educated and disbelieve in evolution. The evidence is so strong that any sane, educated person has got to believe in evolution.
    -- Richard Dawkins, in Lanny Swerdlow, "My Sort Interview with Richard Dawkins" (Portland, Oregon, 1996)

    This is a tame quote for Mr. Dawkins. Usually he throws down something along the lines of “if you don’t believe in evolution, you are a complete idiot.”

    This is the destructive behavior that leads to arguments, wars, bloodshed, genocide, blah blah blah. There are fundamentalist theists and there are fundamentalist atheists.

    Both sides degrade to “I’m right and you’re stupid!”

    The reason I posted this article was I found it very interesting that you never heard the term racism when Bush was portrayed as a monkey. (see http://www.bushorchimp.com/pics.html)

    PS – I love how the liberal media constantly points out that President Obama is black “proving” that racism has dwindled.

    I overheard the same argument from some co-workers back when the Rep. Wilson yelled, “You Lie!” during Obama’s health care speech. Their conclusion was he yelled it because Obama is black; not having the deductive reseasoning to know it’s a political/ ideological argument, not a race issue. See my early post –

    http://gentlemenofleisure1.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-have-dream.html

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  4. Oh, I'm familiar with the works of Richard Dawkins. Even for someone like me who tends to lean closer to the science side of the science/religion debate, a lot of what he says comes off as extreme and fundamentalist. As a result, some good points get lost in all the sturm and drang (which is true whenever fundamentalists, secular or non-secular, get involved), which is a shame.

    Perhaps I missed the point of the article. Or maybe I just felt like the answer it supplied to the question it was asking was an oversimplification intended to attack evolution.

    "why is portraying a black man or woman as a monkey racist whereas portraying a white man (President Bush) not?"

    Simple: because the former has a history of being used to perpetuate racism while the later does not.

    There's the article right there.

    How (the linking of blacks with monkeys via imagery) or why (because evolutionary theory at the time could be used to argue that blacks were closer to our simian ancestors than whites) the former was used to perpetuate racism is irrelevant. It was once used to do so, and that's all that matters.

    Yes, in times past, the portrayal of blacks as monkeys was using evolution to make its racist point. But that's not evolution's fault, as this article, to me, seems to be suggesting, anymore than its Hollywood's fault that black face is considered racist because of old minstrel shows or its the bible's fault that people kill in its name.

    Nowadays, it's wrong to link blacks and monkeys via imagery not because evolution says blacks are inferior, but because there's a documented history of such portrayals being used to oppress and ridicule blacks. Because no such history exists regarding the portrayal of whites as monkeys, it's okay to draw President Bush like a monkey.

    May I suggest that rather than simply linking to the article, a bit of commentary from you might help make your point more clear? I think the contents of your comment would have, generally, made for a fine analysis of the article, and made clear with which conclusions you disagreed and why you found the article interesting. Without that context, it's tough to know what you're thinking and why you posted the link. :)

    PS-not to start another tangent, but DOES the liberal media still say that Obama's election is proof of racism's decline? I haven't heard that fairly ludicrous soundbite in awhile (but then again, I'm not exactly dialed in to the news media, liberal or otherwise).

    And for all the harping I may do on the "republicans" in general, I've never for an instance considered any of their ludicrous attacks towards Obama as being racially motivated at all. Generally, I attribute them to a combination of legitimate, differing political ideologies and sour grapes.

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  5. The root of the racial depiction comes from an inferiority mentality instilled by evolution aka The WHITE man is more advanced/evolved than the savage BLACK.

    Of course prior to Darwin, Whites had already considered Blacks an inferior race (see history of slavery) but I couldn't find any reference of a monkey depiction before the theory of evolution.

    It's a situation of evolution "confirming" the long held belief.


    "Because no such history exists regarding the portrayal of whites as monkeys, it's okay to draw President Bush like a monkey."


    I wholeheartedly disagree with the above statement. Either way, it's disrespectful. The reason it's disrespectful, as stated before, is because evolution teaches that man and monkey have a common ancestor. Any monkey depiction is saying "You are not as EVOLVED as others."

    It's a game of playground insults.

    The reason I didn't put any commentary originally is I was curious to see what others got out of the articles.

    It's well documented that I'm the minority when it comes to certain viewpoints and beliefs among our readers.

    As far as the media and racism go - I should state that it's not just the media, but society as well. I quick google search gives me this article -

    HEADLINE
    President Obama says he won't put focus on blacks' troubles

    President Obama said Thursday that it would be wrong for him to narrowly focus on the troubles blacks face in the recession, rejecting criticism from the Congressional Black Caucus that the government is ignoring the economic plight of minorities.

    "The most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is get the economy going again and get people hiring again," Obama told USA TODAY and the Detroit Free Press. Both newspapers are owned by Gannett.

    On Wednesday, 10 members of the black caucus boycotted a key House committee vote on financial regulations. The group said it would push harder for Congress and the White House to tackle specific problems including an unemployment rate for blacks that was 15.7% in October, which was higher than the national rate of 10.2%.

    END

    It goes on but my point is people are perpetuating racism by keeping the races separate.

    I don't believe Obama is a racist to either black or white (he's both, remember?!?!?) but I do know he'd punch a midget if he had the chance. It's a beautiful picture.

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  6. "Because no such history exists regarding the portrayal of whites as monkeys, it's okay to draw President Bush like a monkey."

    I wholeheartedly disagree with the above statement. Either way, it's disrespectful.


    That's a fair point; I should have been more specific.

    Portraying people as monkeys in order to insult them ("they're not as evolved as X") is certainly disrespectful, regardless of race.

    My point was simply that such behavior doesn't carry the same racial connotations with white subjects as it does with blacks, due to the history of its use in times past as a tool of white-on-black racism.

    So while it's disrespectful when dealing with white subjects, it's disrespectful AND racist when dealing with black subjects.

    It's probably best to just avoid such imagery entirely, unless one truly is trying to be as disrespectful and/or racist as possible.

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  7. I figured you didn't mean "okay" as in "okay.

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  8. I pretty much agree with Teebore.

    Overall, the whole article didn't make sense to me. At first it start with an interesting debate over whether Google is responsible for what its search engine provides.

    Then it the article turned to discussing the nature of racism and the history of the monkey comparison.

    Then, suddenly, the article asserted (via backwards logic) that if you believe in evolution your racist. At that point my head was spinning.

    Anyway, back to the original topic, I find this quote funny:

    Similarly, “I do not think Google should censor its results,” wrote Jonathan C., on a BBC blog inviting public comment.

    The fact is google has censored its results for a long time. You can just turn the filtering off. I suppose the best solution is to just expand their filtering options.


    Anyway, regarding the monkey comparison itself, the fact is making the comparison with a black person is racist and the comparison with a white person is just disrespectful.

    Because of the history involved with racism, racism will always be less tolerated then being plain disrespectful.

    I suppose the logic there is that racism is viewed as disrespecting the millions of people of a certain race while being plain disrespectful is just disrespecting a single person.

    So, perhaps portraying Michelle Obama as a monkey was solely meant to disrespect her but monkey portrayals of black people has been so racially charged that it could be taken as an afront to the entire African race. Which is why it's best to stay away from racial stereotypes entirely.

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