Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Roseanne, one of the most popular series of all time and the most highly rated show at the present moment, has been unceremoniously cancelled by ABC because of a single tweet—a “racist” tweet, according to everyone in Big Media, including and tellingly Big Conservative media—fired off by its leading lady.

Roseanne Barr tweeted on Tuesday that Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Barack Obama, looked like the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and The Planet of the Apes.

Jarrett, as it turns out (and this was news to some of us) has some African ancestry. Thus, Barr’s ape reference in connection with Jarrett has been ruled by Respectable Society as an act of—what else?—racism!

Not only is this an act of racism, it is an unequivocal act of racism. It’s racist-“hate!”

Those in Big Conservative media are busy complaining (as usual) about “the double standards” of their leftist counterparts.  Yet they have been just as tenacious in condemning Barr for her “racist” tweet as the latter.

Some thoughts:

First, there is a vast, omnipresent industry in this country that few people are willing to recognize for what it is: the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC).  The agents and profiteers of RIC absolutely need to further the perception that what they call “racism” is an incorrigible, “systemic,” “structural,” or “institutional” feature of daily American life.  The term “racism,” though spoken of as if it had a unitary, self-evident meaning, is used in wildly disparate contexts: From Nazis to the Klan to Paula Deen and, now, Roseanne Barr, apparently, a racist is a racist is a racist.

Obviously, however, a term that’s been made this elastic has been divested of meaning. A definition is in order.  But this is exactly the point:

The Titans of RIC—activists, academics, Diversity consultants, politicians, and a whole lot of other folks—cannot permit closer inspection of “racism.”  The term must remain chameleonic. Its value derives precisely from its abstract character, its readiness to be enlisted in the service of the cause of the day.

We cannot approach this controversy within which Barr has embroiled herself without understanding it in the light of RIC, an industry more immense than any other and from which untold numbers of people regularly reap benefits of every conceivable sort.

Second, contrary to the conventional wisdom, Barr’s tweet was not obviously racially-charged, let alone “racist.”

For starters, she remarked on Wednesday that she didn’t even know that Jarrett was black.  This is eminently credible, for neither did I know that Jarret is (partially) black.  In any event, it’s far from clear that she is of any African ancestry. This being said, if it’s not “racist” to liken Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump to monkeys, since they are not black, then shouldn’t it follow that neither is the same kind of remark aimed at a person who is believed to be non-black “racist?”

Furthermore, let’s suppose that Barr knew that Jarrett was black.  So what?  Unlike “nigger,” which has a history explicitly, uniquely peculiar to blacks, derogatory monkey references to humans have no such history.  It could’ve easily been the case that Barr likened to an ape, not a black woman, but a woman who happened to be black.

In calling Jarrett, who in no clear way possesses any Afro-centric features, the offspring of apes Barr could’ve intended to call attention to what she took to be Jarrett’s unattractiveness, or maybe her incompetence or idiocy. That is, she could’ve been motivated by the same sorts of considerations that animate the critics of Reagan, Bush, Trump, and other whites to mock them through ape analogies.

Third, the readiness with which the elites of Respectable Society, in one voice, convicted Barr of the worst of offenses of which a white person can be convicted in today’s world, requires either an inability or an unwillingness to think through this issue all of the two minutes that it takes.  Doubtless, many talkers and scribblers are not especially bright.  Others, though, are driven first and foremost by their aching desire to be accepted by the Politically Correct Master Class, that Respectable Society of which they consider themselves members.

Fourth, the speed with which Roseanne Barr, of all people, is being reduced to persona non grata over this one incident is a revealing commentary on the times.  She is among the most famous living people, a female Jewish Democrat who infamously grabbed her crotch during the playing of the national anthem decades ago. She is no conservative and but a qualified Trump-supporter whose new show is hardly the reactionary statement that her right-leaning admirers have made it out to be.

And everyone knows it.

To prove that they are not simply trying to ingratiate themselves to the agents of RIC, that they aren’t virtue-signaling, all of those who are now trying to distance themselves from Barr should forego every penny that she ever made them.  Those at ABC, as well as her fellow cast members and those who worked behind the scenes for her show, should pledge to return every penny of the blood money that they earned courtesy of this frothing-at-the-mouth Racist!

For the record, I’ve never been a fan of Roseanne Barr, and I’ve never been among Roseanne’s viewers.  But the truth is the truth, and the truth is that the Racism-Industrial-Complex is a juggernaut that never sleeps.

Roseanne is just the latest one of its prey.  

David Cole is an internet writer whose most recent piece, “In Grudging Praise of White Racists,” provides much food for thought.

Cole’s thesis is actually quite simple: While he personally has no use for “right-wing white racism,” he thinks that we may need to allow it a public space for no other reason but to let the “white nationalists, white supremacists, and sieg heilers” to function as a check of sorts on the “leftist Nazism” that is very rapidly becoming mainstream.  Only if the latter is permitted to clash with the former will the majority of Americans recognize both expressions of “extremism” for the ugly specimens that they are.

The general thrust of the author’s thinking deserves sympathy: His point is gotten easily enough.  Still, his analysis breaks down at several points.

First, Cole’s position reflects the extent to which “leftist Nazism” has gained control of the minds of even its self-styled opponents, folks like Cole.  Kendrick Lamar, to whose treatment of a young white woman at one of his concerts Cole presents as an exhibit of “left-wing racism,” doubtless acted like a classless jerk.  The conduct of those leftist commentators who lionized him for castigating and humiliating this white fan for publically singing along with Lamar the racially-charged lyrics of one his pieces after he had invited her on stage to do so are no less classless and contemptible.

Still, they most definitely do not deserve to be lumped in with Hitler’s Nazis.  Nevertheless, it’s not difficult to discern why Cole is given to hurl charges of “Nazism” at his opponents.  Though historically and morally indefensible, politically speaking this reduction of one’s opponents to the status of Nazis has proven to be an especially viable strategy.

The problem for the Coles of the world is that it has proven to be a successful approach only for those on the hard left, i.e. those on whom Cole (rightly) sets his sights on his piece.

And this brings us to the next problem with Cole’s assessment:

In every conceivable respect—socially, culturally, economically, politically, and even psychically—there is no parity between the two varieties of “racism” to which he alludes.  The left’s “Nazism” long ago went mainstream.  In fact, such has been the fortunes of the left that not only is it culturally and politically acceptable to demonize white people; it is respectable to do so.

In 1967, Susan Sontag referred to white people as “the cancer” of the human race.  Admittedly, rarely do we hear public figures using language quite this explicit in their campaign to demoralize and dehumanize the white majority.  Yet the campaign remains in full force and the sentiment that powers it is one and the same as that expressed by Sontag over a half-of-a-century ago.

To put this point another way, Cole’s argument, like that of virtually every person on the right who insists upon turning leftists’ weapons of choice against them, utterly fails to accommodate one not-so-tiny detail.

It’s called the Racism-Industrial-Complex (RIC).

This is among the largest, quite possibly the largest of industries in America.  It is rapidly becoming among the largest industries throughout the Western world.  There is no aspect of American life into which it hasn’t spread its many tentacles.  Indeed, it is omnipresent.

Politicians, Democrat, Republican, and in between, make sure to grease the wheels of RIC, whether they’re espousing nonsense about the country’s having been founded upon a “proposition” of Equality; praising a cardboard cut-out of Martin Luther King, Jr., a politically-useful fiction that they’ve invented by isolating a few lines from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; focusing only on the problems of illegal immigration while pretending that legal immigration is problem-free; supporting or refraining from criticizing race-based preferential  treatment policies for blacks; and ignoring the astronomical rates and often horrific nature of black-on-white criminality while speaking of blacks as victims, either of “racism” (if the speaker is a Democrat) or the Welfare-State (if one is a Republican).

Of course, given that trillions of dollars have been spent on the War on Poverty since the 1960s, a war launched principally on the basis of rectifying centuries of discrimination against American blacks, this too is a central feature of RIC, one to which anyone who aspires to be successful in politics knows that he must defer.

RIC has completely saturated our educational system, from kindergarten through college.  Public institutions are obviously most directly affected, but neither have private schools escaped its gravitational pull.

Christian churches have been infiltrated by RIC.

The media, both the standard “mainstream” or “legacy” media as well as its “right-wing” alternative, what some refer to as “Conservatism Inc.” and what I call “Big Conservatism” (or the Big Con), facilitate RIC.

And, obviously, throughout the arts, the entertainment industry, RIC is on full display.

As I write this, ABC cancelled the highest rated prime time series, Roseanne, because its leading lady tweeted that former Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett, looks like the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and The Planet of the Apes. Although Roseanne has insisted that she didn’t know Jarrett was black (and who would know this just by looking at Jarrett?), and although she apologized, her tweet has been unequivocally condemned by Big Media, “liberal” and “conservative” alike, as unadulterated “racist hate.”

The Racism-Industrial-Complex never rests.

Cole’s generally sound goal notwithstanding, what he apparently doesn’t grasp is that insofar as he insists upon accusing those to his right and left of being Nazis and racists, he reinforces the very juggernaut whose influence he wants to diminish.  The idea that “racism” is the worst of all transgressions, coupled with the notion that right-wing “white supremacists” pose a culturally-significant threat—ideas that Cole seems to endorse—are leftist fantasies.  They are the fuel for the engine of the Racism-Industrial-Complex.

Cole does, however, seem to be on sturdier ground when he suggests that we would be better off divesting Political Correctness of its sting by assuming a more nonchalant attitude toward it.

Yet we will also stand a better chance of starving the beast by refraining from making some version or other of the argument ad Hitlerium at every available opportunity.

Did you know that John McCain, Arizona senator and former presidential candidate, is a war hero?

It’s understandable if you didn’t know this, for no one, least of all Senator McCain himself, ever mentions this fact.

In this respect, McCain is not unlike your average combat veteran, particularly those combat veterans from the World War II era, like my late paternal grandfather who died when I was but nine years of age.  Years later, after I reached adulthood, I would ask my father if his dad ever recounted many of his experiences from the war.  My dad would reply in the negative, explaining that most of the men from that generation spoke little about their time in combat.

In other words, they were like McCain, who not only disavows all attempts by others to brand him a war hero, but who aggressively insists that no one ever refer to him as such.

And did you further know that if one of the most visible and among the most influential public figures in the world is dying, that irrespectively of what he’s said or done, it remains immoral to respond to this figure critically?

Senator McCain, you see, has terminal brain cancer. Thus, it is immoral for any remotely decent human being to utter a single critical syllable about him—even if it is in response to remarks that McCain continues to make.

As the reader has doubtless discovered by now, the foregoing paragraphs are to be understood as full-throated sarcasm.  McCain and his admirers have spent decades playing the “war hero” card at every turn.  They continue doing so.  A friend of mine recently remarked that he can’t think of a single other person who has exploited his combat service for personal gain to the extent that McCain has done so.  Neither can I think of anyone who so much as places a distant second.

Even John Kerry doesn’t come close in this regard, for Kerry played the war-hero bit only for the purpose of securing the presidency in 2004.  When that didn’t work, he went silent on this front.

McCain is a different breed entirely.

The claim that McCain is a war hero depends upon the fact that he bombed, from tens of thousands of feet in the air, numerous poverty-stricken Vietnamese villagers—men, women, and children—before being captured and confined for five years to a POW prison.

But bear the following considerations in mind.

(1)That McCain and his fellow pilots sought to cripple Vietcong does not change the brute fact that they inevitably set ablaze the lives of untold numbers of innocents too. The killing, the maiming, the orphaning, and the traumatizing of poor Vietnamese villagers courtesy of McCain and his comrades in the skies is the stuff of nightmares.

If heroism is a moral virtue, it is difficult to discern the virtuousness in McCain’s course of action.

(2)It is undeniably tragic that McCain and other Americans (who never exploited their experiences to advance themselves materially, professionally, and politically, as McCain has) were made to endure torture for years at the hands of the Vietcong.  Perhaps we can admire in those soldiers who suffered the virtues of perseverance, self-discipline, patience, fortitude, and maybe even courage.

Still, a soldier who leaps on top of a hand grenade to prevent harm to his brothers-in-arms acts heroically.

Doctors without borders, those physicians who attend to the wounded and ill in war-torn lands at risk of life and limb to themselves, act heroically.

It’s much more difficult to discern the heroism in the suffering of people whose only alternative to captivity was death, particularly when those same people were the antagonists.

(3) Even if McCain could be considered a war hero, this in and of itself doesn’t tell us anything else about his character.  Benedict Arnold was a super patriot and war hero too.  But perhaps second only to Judas Iscariot, he is remembered today, whether justly or not, as history’s biggest traitor.

(4)If McCain was a war hero for engaging in preemptive violence against a Third World people on behalf of his country, then aren’t the Vietcong, to say nothing of Nazis and other communists who engaged in defensive violence against American invaders for the sake of protecting their respective countries at least as deserving of this distinction?

If one’s answer to this last question is “no,” then, presumably, it can only be because the American cause for which McCain fought in Vietnam was just while the causes of Nazis and communists were unjust. Yet there are two problems with this position.

(a)Assuming for argument’s sake that the Vietnam War was just, this implies that one can risk life and limb for the sake of defending one’s loved ones, compatriots, and homeland, or for the sake of bringing honor to one’s God and one’s ancestors, and yet lack heroism.

(b)It remains, at a minimum, a debatable question as to whether the Vietnam War was in fact just.  Even those Americans who now regret the war tend to regard the soldiers who fought it as “heroes.” If their intuition is correct, if, that is, American soldiers could be heroes for participating in an unjust cause, then so too must we conclude that Nazis, communists, and ISIS soldiers, i.e. those who fought for what most of us view as unjust causes, are heroic.

So, one can be heroic while acting unjustly.

None of this is to suggest that there aren’t ways of resolving these paradoxes.  The point here twofold:

First, the concept of a “hero,” particularly a war hero, is not as unproblematic as many assume.

Second, from the assertion that a person is a war hero, nothing much else follows.

(5)Big Conservative (neoconservative) commentators who are now castigating the rank and file of their movement for being critical of McCain in his last days have steadfastly refused to spare an ounce of the compassion that they extend to their hero for the countless human beings around the planet whose lives have been ruined because of McCain.

Not only has McCain, a man whom, one would think, knows better than most the horrors of war, been all too eager to send off generations of young Americans to die and suffer in every conceivable way in one war after the other for the realization of which he’s enlisted his power and influence; McCain is responsible also for the abysmal fate of an incalculable number of Third World people of color whose lives were devastated in these wars.

McCain’s war mongering, from Vietnam to Iraq and several other places in between, left doubtless over a million human beings, men, women, and, most heartbreaking of all, children, destroyed.  Civilian noncombatants perished in astronomical numbers in places like Iraq and as many as 800,000 children there have been orphaned, with 10,000 or so experiencing severe psychological trauma.

Not once has McCain (or any of his neoconservative admirers) ever issued an apology to a single soul for his actions.

And yet the rest of us are supposed to sit in silence while McCain continues to be praised as a “war hero” and as he continues to pontificate from his death bed.

A nationally syndicated talk radio host recently implored his listeners to show some “humanity” by sparing McCain of criticism at this time.  This host enthusiastically supported McCain’s policies, particularly his foreign policies, for decades. I would submit to this host that it is inhumane to allow McCain to enjoy the acolyte of “hero,” to immunize him from criticism. In doing so, we turn our backs on the legions of our fellow human beings to whose incalculable suffering he contributed over his career in “public service.”

 

 

 

Below is my response to a person who apparently thinks that no one should criticize John McCain because, one, he’s dying and, two, he’s…what else?. . a “war hero.”
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You ask me if I have no decency? Do you? Do you have any intellectual integrity? Any sense of feeling for McCain’s countless victims, both the poor Vietnamese villagers who he bombed from thousands of feet in the air as well as many others whose destruction he orchestrated as a Senator and visible public figure?
Given that the vast majority of McCain’s victms are Third World peoples of color, and since not an ounce of the compassion that you ooze for your hero seems to extend to them, must we conclude that you are a “racist” Stuart?
Of course, McCain was only all too happy to send generations of American boys off to be maimed, traumatized, and killed too. No, Stuart, you shut your own damn mouth, rather than tell me to shut mine. Do some soul-searching, and ask yourself:
(1)What makes McCain a “war hero?”
(2) Can someone be a bad person and yet a hero? After all, Nazi soldiers risked life and limb to protect their Fatherland too, did they not? They too experienced suffering the likes of which I’m sure YOU CANNOT FATHOM, Stuart. Are they not heroes too?
(3) Benedict Arnold was a hero and a superpatriot–until he became one of history’s most remembered traitors. Should his critics have “shut their mouths” out of reverence for his service to his country?
(4) Everyone suffers Stuart. Life is filled with it. Is everyone who toughs out the loss of loved ones, including the loss of children, to be commended for their “heroism?” Should all criticism of these people, however rotten they may treat others, be suspended because they endured suffering?
(5) Martin Luther King referred to America as “the biggest purveyor of violence in the world today” because of its actions in Vietnam. If the war was unjust, as King and many others–including, most notably, many ‘Nam veterans themselves–insist, then is it possible for McCain and others who participated in that war to be commended for their heroism?
(6)If, as many–including, most notably, American soldiers who participated in it–believe that the war in Iraq, justified as it was on the basis of what everyone now recognizes as a falsehood, was unjust, then shouldn’t at least some of that boundless compassion that you have for your war hero extend to the more than one million Iraqis whose lives he helped destroy, and to whom he has yet to issue an apology?
I don’t expect for you to treat with any seriousness any of these questions, Stuart. I expect for you to respond with more condescension and insults. Have at it. I’m done.