Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus the Amazing Whitey

The Racial "Double Standard" - Andrew Sullivan

I'm not particularly fond of Don Imus and the past week of 'all Imus, all the time' has gone beyond the grating point. After arguing about it for nearly an hour with my dad I'm quite ready to break large and expensive items. But Sullivan here captures some of what I'm angry about with the defenders of Imus. The biggest issue with the whole Imus affair is tied to the language-game and how the meaning of words is constructed. Words themselves have no inherent meaning. That meaning is provided by us. So, that is to say, words do have meaning but they mean different things to different people because we provide that meaning. The idea of some sort of racial double standard goes against the nature of language as certain words have a certain meaning to certain people, or in this case, races. For me, it's not simply an issue of race but of culture. Not all black Americans agree that firing Imus was the right thing to do whereas not all white Americans believe that what Imus said was simply a stupid joke. But what gets some people into a tiff is the idea that the rappers and r&b singers of black America somehow get a pass on making seemingly racist and sexist comments while Imus has his head handed to him.
One argument that I've heard is that since Imus is a shock-jock it's simply par for the course that he would make such comments. It's part of his shtick after all. But the same people who make that argument forget to carry the same understanding over to the rappers. Rap is filled with negative comments towards women and it's simply par for the course for a rapper to say those things. But that still gets into the issue of a double standard and I don't see it as a double standard but different standards for different cultures.
The problem is that white culture is the dominant culture so it is expected for the things we see on tv, hear on the radio and read in magazines to display an image of whiteness. It's a question of beauty. What white find beautiful in women is straight hair, clean skin and the weakness of femininity. This even applies to the black women we see in the media with their light brown skin, fair hair and respectable attitude. The black women of the Rutgers team do not fit with the image of white beauty with their tattoos, 'nappy' hair and tough attitude. When someone like Imus makes the comments he did it is not simply to rip on them but to remind a primarily white audience why the Rutgers women are different. They are dirty, loose women who do not deserve the honors they have received.
Within black culture the use of words like 'ho' and 'nappy' are not necessarily meant to show how some people are different. While the sexism of the term 'ho' tends to remain the same between cultures the term 'nappy' does not and is even a term of pride for some. The problem with the term 'ho' and its usage in rap music is that black culture is not the primary purchaser of rap albums. Instead it is white middle class males who propel rap artists to present this image of the 'gangsta' lifestyle. That some blacks perpetuate this image is simply another example of white cultural dominance.
What is most disappointing about the whole Imus affair is that while we have an opportunity to actually discuss race relations in America there are those who seek to use this incident to further their political and cultural agendas. Between Al Sharpton and the right-wing media all we will hear is this noise about how the blacks don't understand and the whites don't understand but nothing about how whites and blacks might find a way to talk about this. The Reverend Sharpton gets to play 'protector of black culture' by pointing to people like Rush Limbaugh and saying "See, Whitey doesn't understand, but I do and I will defend you." So all we get is another moment where white could have seen the light but because of the noise-makers of the so-called black leaders and the right-wing whiteys we lose. Fuck I want a drink.

Surge Merge

Surge Arithmetic - Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly

Via Andrew Sullivan comes a bit about the finagling of troop numbers to maintain the surge. I don't like it personally, but that's because I have two cousins in the Marines, one who just got home from Anbar province, and his wife who just had her fourth kid. Really, why do they have to send them? Can't they find some more 18-year-olds?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Uranium Workers of the World Unite!

Iran "Industrial" Nukes: Yawn - The Danger Room

So apparently the idea that Iran has the capabilities for industrial-scale production of reactor and bomb quality uranium is less than it seems. Call me unsurprised. What I'm more interested in is the few reports I have heard concerning Iran's monetary situation. If Iran is steadily being squeezed by the West financially then we might see the pro-western population, sated with their western products, start to squeeze the government in return. Either way, I think the financial sanctions will have more of an impact than any sort of rhetoric concerning Iran's 'proper' place in the world. Things like Iran's announcement of 'industrial' production of uranium doesn't come as much of a surprise when you consider Iran's need to look tough in the face of such sanctions. The capture of those fifteen British sailors can be considered in the same light. What all this means, I think, is that Iran is feeling increasingly isolated and wants a serious confrontation with the leaders of the U.S., who seem to want such a confrontation despite our inability to actually do anything about it militarily.

Dream Whip Pie

They ate the last of the dream whip pie. I have to wait until Easter of next year before I get that pie again. Screw family, screw Zombie Jesus, Easter is all about that pie. I guess this means I have to kill another son of God to get another Easter on the calendar.