Just in case you think all the shouting happens here in the Blogosphere…

My colleague who processes incoming letters regularly forwards copies of those that are specifically responding to a personal column. I’ve been copied several of those today from my Sunday column. Here are my two favorites so far. They illustrate the point that those of us who edit editorial pages had been dealing with the "blogosphere" for years before the word was coined.

By the way, I have no idea whether either of these will be among the few chosen to be published. I’m satisfied to see them (or not) when they show up (or don’t) on the page.

Anyway, first I get BAM from the left:

    In "Worrying  about what happens if Obama loses" (Sunday September 14), if Brad Warthen doesn’t consider Barack Obama to be a black man, then what does he consider him to be?   Nevermind the angst over a polarized country, Mr. Warthen has more important worries such as how he can educate himself on issues of racism.  Surely, anyone who has spent five minutes seriously considering racism on a real level would instantly know that the Rev. Joe Darby is dead on with his assessment of white middle America.  Not so?  Try imagining Sarah Palin’s life superimposed on the Obama family and see if the same sympathy and understanding resonates.
    It would seem that Mr. Warthen doesn’t consider Obama black because he obviously doesn’t see black: par for the course in South Carolina.  And like so many typical South Carolinians, if you don’t see race, then you certainly don’t have to deal with the issue in any meaningful way.

Then I get BAM-BAM from the right:

    Mr. Darby is about as racial as you can get.  I have read his diatribes promoted as Guest Columns.  In many ways he reminds me of Mr. Limbaugh, except at the opposite viewpoint.  Unfortunately to the Liberal Media, such as NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and "The State", a comment can only be considered racial if the person making it is not of the Black Community. 
    In my letter to the Editor of August 28, 2008, which was censured and intentionally not put into print, I had predicted that the Liberal Media and the Black Community want to get Mr. Obama elected, not because he is qualified but to make history as the first Black to win the Presidency.  I had also forecasted that the race card would be played by them to make people of all other races and creeds guilty if they did not vote him in.  Mr. Darby considers the Presidency for Mr. Obama, as an Entitlement.
    I also find it mind boggling that Mr. Warthen wears blinders when he harps about Ms. Palin’s lack of experience.  While I agree that Ms. Palin does not have enough experience, she at least has 1 1/2 years of it as the Governor of Alaska and she is running for Vice President.  Mr. Obama is running for the Office of the President and he has zilch "NADA" experience of  any kind.
    It has not dawned on Mr. Warthen that a larger majority of the people in this State are either Independent or Conservative in their views and The State’s Editorial Group is out of place.  Maybe this is why The State continues to and will lose readership.  I predict that "The State" will pick Mr. Obama as their choice in November.

I’m always intrigued by the letter writers who see a huge, PERSONAL slight in their letters not being among the ones chosen for the paper, as though we run ALL of them, except the few that we choose not to run, just to be mean. For the record — I just went and asked — we run about half of the letters submitted.

I also enjoyed that one because of the endorsement prediction. So THERE, those of you who accuse us of having decided already for McCain…. Also, when did I "harp on" Sarah Palin’s lack of experience?

The first letter I liked because this reader just can’t wait for that promised column about how I don’t consider Obama to be a black man. Those of you who read the blog of course have read about this upcoming column before, back on this post:

Talk about what the election of Barack Obama as a black man means misses the point, since — as a lot of black folks asserted last year leading up to the primaries — Obama simply is not a "black man" in the sense that the phrase has meaning in American history, sociology and politics. I’ve got a column I’m planning on writing about that, after I read his autobiography on the subject. It will be headlined "Barack Like Me," and it will be rooted in the experiences he and I share spending part of our formative years in Hawaii (where race simply did not mean what it means here) and outside the United States — both in the Third World, in fact. None of these experiences are common to the sort of guy we describe when we say "black American." I hope to write that one before the summer is over.

Obviously, I didn’t get it done before the summer is over. There have been two holdups:

  1. I haven’t had time to read that book yet, and I expect reading it will make the column better.
  2. I have thought about the blasted column so much, and have so many points I want to make in it, that I dread the hard work of having to cram it all into 25 inches. That happens some times with columns that I keep MEANING to write — they get delayed further by my having thought too much about them. (Although the two columns are not at all alike, I had the same problem with the John Edwards column that caused such a stir — I had promised it for months, and just kept putting it off.)

Maybe I should just skip reading the book (which may complicate the writing further) and write it this week or next.

Oh, one other thing about that first letter: Someone else — I think it was in another letter we ran, or maybe somebody else — raised that "imagine if Sarah Palin were black" thing, with the assumption that she’d be perceived differently. (At least, I THINK that’s what was meant by "superimposed on the Obama family;" maybe it meant something else.) I thought the same thing then that I think reading this now: How do you figure?

14 thoughts on “Just in case you think all the shouting happens here in the Blogosphere…

  1. bud

    This racial stuff is really irrelevant. I’m sure Sarah Palin would have a more difficult time if she was black. But so what? It’s about the top of the ticket and specifically the issues not race.
    Barbara Walters went after John McCain hard on the view the other day. It’s about damn time! The press has been a joke when it comes to pressing this old man on his smear and fear mongering. The very idea that he can defend this Palin woman as the best qualified VP choice in history is simply beyond the pale.

  2. James D McCallister

    After reading the Sunday NY Times, I can better see why Palin was chosen: She’s petty, vindictive, power hungry, participates in campaigns of secrecy, surrounds herself with loyalists (including appointing the pastor of her church, old high school chums, etc, to important and/or high paying positions), rewards herself with perks, denies basic accountability, and, lord have mercy, I could go on — but the point is, she’s George W. Bush in heels and smart-girl glasses, designed to appeal to the same nabobs and nincompoops who still think W is a great leader for all of the above, and also to the female vote that they think are so vapid they’ll vote for the ticket just because they managed to get a woman on it.
    And, please, p.m., Lee, whomever, don’t call me a Democrat after reading this post. I’m just pointing out stuff about Palin, not saying Obama is the second coming. In many ways, I don’t trust the Dems any better — but I suspect I’ll rest easier knowing that Joe Biden’s a heartbeat away than this Alaskan weather girl.

  3. Phillip

    Brad, I think the reference the first writer was trying to make in regard to “superimposing” Palin’s life on the Obama family is in the following area:
    The pregnancy pre-wedlock of her daughter Bristol. Granted, I agree with those (including Obama) who say this was and is an off-limits and irrelevant topic. But I think your writer was imagining if one of Obama’s daughters were 17 and had gotten pregnant out of wedlock…I think we both know that discussion would go WAY beyond the individual case and there would be much discussion of the “dysfunctional black family today in America” etc. etc.
    In any case, though of course racism plays some role in a significant number of people’s decision on whom to vote for, I don’t totally share Rev. Darby’s views. But in any case all this hand-wringing about black folks’ potentially blaming an Obama loss on racism is:
    a) way premature…since Obama has at least a 50-50 shot of winning the Presidency
    b) significantly overstated…at least from what I can see in the blogosphere and elsewhere this “anticipatory blame game” is not nearly as widespread as the actual and palpable (if sometimes thinly veiled) swipes at Obama’s diverse ethnic heritage that we see all over the place, especially in the blogosphere. (I mean, Brad, come on…Darby wrote one op-ed piece…how many times do you see Obama called a Muslim or a non-American or a racist on this blog? Is black anger really the thing to be worried about? I’d still be more worried about white reactionary anger should Obama actually be elected President).
    and c) unfairly prejudicial against Obama, since it’s sort of taking a hypothetical and projecting a widespread race-based anger on the part of many of his supporters WITHOUT such an event having even taken place. (For that same reason, though, it’s not really fair to saddle McCain with the fact that a lot of his supporters would have gleefully piled on with invective if that Palin scenario had taken place with Obama’s family. A hypothetical. But still…)
    I’m not sure which will be funnier: The Daily Show from 2009-2013 if McCain/Palin win, or seeing the proliferation of very angry Lee Mullers flooding your blog in the same time period (to your surprise) should Obama win.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Ooh, “Alaska weather girl” — way harsh!
    That would be a nice, easy job, though: “Today’s weather? Cold!”

  5. Brad Warthen

    And Phillip — I got what the writer was saying. I just didn’t buy it.
    As for the Obama is a Muslim stuff, perhaps you’ve noticed that we do NOT run op-ed pieces from the “Obama is a Muslim” freaks. We did run Joe’s piece. Why? Because what Joe says matters; it’s a legitimate part of the debate.
    As for Lee, I’ll make three points:
    — I expect Lee to be angry, whatever happens. Don’t you?
    — Lee is an excellent example of the difference between views that are respectable enough to put in the paper, and stuff I just barely tolerate on the blog (and you tell me what else I should do in that regard; I’m open to suggestions. Lee’s been banned once, but he came back using his real name. If I ban him now, where do I draw the line? If I ban everyone who seems unreasonable, is that necessarily a good thing? I’m still struggling for the right standard here on the blog, and trying to err on the side of NOT banning people.)
    — My concern about the people on the left who will freak out if Obama loses is that I think a lot of them will be otherwise reasonable people whose views ARE worthy of publication in the paper.
    Do you see what I’m saying?

  6. Lee Muller

    There is nothing “hateful” or “freakish” about posting facts.
    It is a FACT that Obama’s community organizing was for Nation of Islam projects, and many were funded by a foundation run by the Nigerian government.
    It is a simple FACT that Percy Sutton, socialist radical and lawyer for Malcolm X, claimed in a TV interview that he used his influence to get Obama into Harvard Law School and got Kahled Monsour to pay the bills. I posted a link to Mr. Sutton’s interview on this blog, since Brad Warthen dotes on video.
    It is a FACT that Obama is supported by Muslim leaders. I posted an exerpt from an AP news story on those Muslims hoping Obama wins.
    It is a FACT that Obama was raised Muslim in Indonesia and attended a Wahabe school.
    It is a FACT that Obama’s campaign met with terrorist leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. Several of them then allegedly resigned, though we don’t know if they are really still working for Obama.
    If Obama wants to clear up all these ties to Muslim radicals, he needs to quit hiding and start explaining. But first, he will have to get in front of a real journalist who will ask him.

  7. p.m.

    Actually, James, Palin seems pretty much an everyday individual to me. Hence her popularity. People can relate to her; she’s not some far-removed Washington political machine like Biden has become.
    But you say, “After reading the Sunday NY Times, I can better see why Palin was chosen.”
    Well, I reckon so. The NYT routinely criticizes Republicans and covets Democrats.
    See there? I avoided calling you a Democrat — just like you asked. But you probably should consider the source when you’re reading the garbage modern newspapers call journalism.

  8. p.m.

    And a little P.S., James. Should you call Sarah Palin an “Alaskan weather girl” to her face, methinks you would soon regret it.

  9. bud

    Mike, Whoopie was asking McCain a rhetorical question to illustrate that it may not be such a good idea to go back to the Constitution as it was originally written.
    But that was a side issue. Barbara Walters really nailed the wrinkly white-haired dude on his pandering choice for VP and his lying TV ads. Way to go Bah Bah.

  10. Lee Muller

    Charlie Gibson asked Obama about his tax proposals. Obama didn’t know what the capital gains tax was, which is not surprising for a ghetto Marxist who never made over $25,000 a year before being adopted by the Daley machine.
    But where is the media outrage over Obama’s ignorance of financial matters?

  11. Phillip

    This is late to post on this line but I was away…Brad, for sure I would never ever propose banning Lee from this blog, so that was definitely not my point…just that many more Lees will come out of the woodwork should Obama be elected.
    No, I’m a proud ACLU member and support Lee’s right to express his views.


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