By the way, Gilliard's not a racist, and neither are the Oreo-chuckers (if they actually exist)
Some folks on the Right weren't very happy with me when I declined to condemn Steve Gilliard for using what they thought was racist imagery. If you're not familiar with the whole thing, Gilliard Photoshopped a picture of black Republican Michael Steele to make it look as though Steele was wearing blackface, and nicknamed Steele "Simple Sambo." It should also be mentioned that the intention of the image wasn't to trick anyone into thinking that Steele actually had donned the blackface, and to my knowledge no one took it that way (it was a pretty crude Photoshop job).
The original post by Gilliard can be found here, but the image itself has been removed - not because, as Michelle Malkin claims, "conservative bloggers blew the whistle", but rather because the original image was actually copyrighted by the Washington Post and they asked him to remove it. Here's what it looked like:
Ha ha, whatever.
But wingnuts, delicate souls that they are, were highly offended, and declared that Gilliard was a "vicious racist" and a "piece of trash".
Well, if you haven't noticed, right-wingers are always whining about something, and while we like to be able to set them straight whenever possible, there's only so many hours in the day. Luckily, a couple of bloggers, Roy Edroso and Brad Plumer (HT: Blogometer), have taken on the thankless task of explaining what one would think wouldn't have to be explained to ostensive adults. First, Plumer:
Usually this stuff just deserves mockery, but oh, what the hell. It looks like every conservative on the planet has his/her knickers in a knock because black Maryland Democrats have been making "racially-tinged attacks" on Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a black Republican running for Senate. Well, what of it? When it comes down to it, I don't think throwing Oreos at a politician—as Morgan State students did to Steele in 2002—is ever that productive. That's just me. But conservatives are calling it "racist". The trouble is that everyone seems to mean something different by the word. So...And then Edroso, who humorously titles his post: "How come they can call each other 'nigger' and we can't?"
Just hash out the background assumptions. Many liberals, give or take, believe some variation of the following: 1) power and inequality in this country matters a great deal, especially economic power; 2) black Americans, as a group, have very little power—economically and socially; 3) "racially-tinged" remarks are vile mainly insofar as they reinforce unjust power relations. So long as you believe these three things, then no, a black progressive calling a black politician "Sambo" won't be considered racist. It doesn't follow. Especially when he did it after Steele tacitly endorsed Gov. Ehrlich's appearance at an all-white country club.
A bunch of wingers are mad because some black people made fun of some black people. Why, one black person even portrayed another black person as Sambo! This indignity causes the wingers to say stuff like this:Well, I guess Edroso kind of comes to the same conclusion I do - if you're not sharp enough to understand some things on your own, you're not going to understand when I explain them to you. But I do appreciate the fact that he seems to understand that as much as the Right bitches about "political correctness," they are actually its most vigilant enforcers nowadays.Therefore, it follows that a move away from the Democratic party is tantamount to a move away from black authenticity, a willful act that opens to attack those “race traitors” who have surrendered the protections that proceed from adherence to the dictates of the group’s identity. Which is to say, racial jabs are okay when they are aimed at those who’ve surrendered the protections offered by the group, because those who’ve left the group no longer meet the requirements for protected blackness.This same guy likes to complain about "a culture of political correctness constantly on guard against giving offense," but when black people throw Oreos, it's time to regulate!
And... oh, I give up. This is like trying to develop an argument against people who think peppermints are made out of peppers and mints. If you don't see the difference between Caucasians doing these things to African-Americans, and AfAms doing them to other AfAms, then I can only suggest a remedial class in Life Itself.
(Incidentally, Oliver Willis wonders whether the Oreo-chucking incident ever really happened.)