Monday, January 22, 2007

Juan Williams Plays The Race Card 

Even by the rather low standards Juan Williams has set for himself since joining Fox, this is particularly noxious:
And I think in terms of Obama and race, I still think that there's -- and don't forget the idea that, you know, he comes from a father who was a Muslim and all that. I mean, I think that, given that we're at war with Muslim extremists, that presents a problem. And I think there's a lot of -- for all the openness to Obama and the whole idea of a fresh new start, I think race continues to be an issue.
Let's deconstruct that. What does Williams mean when says that "race continues to be an issue". In context, it seems that he means the claim that Obama's father was a Muslim. (In fact, Obama says he was an agnostic.) But that doesn't really make sense. At least as it is understood in contemporary America, Islam is not a race, and Muslims can be of any race. And Williams, who has authored several books about the American civil rights movement, certainly knows it. (For comparison's sake, John Kerry's having a Jewish grandfather was a minor news story in 2004, and no one seriously suggested it would be an issue in his being elected President.)

What Williams is clearly referring to, I think, is that Obama is defined as black in our culture (though he in fact has parents of different races). No doubt, that's a consideration in this election. One would have to be impossibly naive to assume that Obama's parentage won't affect how his campaign is portrayed in the media and who ultimately will vote for him. But what does Obama's absent father's religious beliefs have to do with that? As far as I can tell, it doesn't -- at least not in terms of "race" as commonly defined.

What I think is going on, then, is that this is the equivalent of the infamous Harold Ford "call me" advertisement. Overt racism is no longer acceptable in public discourse. The right's problem, then, is how to insinuate race without doing it expressly. The "call me" ad worked because it used the cover of sexual irresponsibility (barely plausible, as Ford is unmarried) to trigger deeper racial distrust (white discomfort with interracial sex). Likewise, Williams' bizarre reasoning uses the cover of another (again, barely plausible) rationale for considering Obama's parentage to trigger other racial distrusts (a sense, perhaps, that blacks are not "true" Americans who can be trusted to lead the Nation).

Maybe that's all paranoia. Maybe Williams just fumbled how he expressed himself. But we know that Fox not only leans right but makes a concerted effort to make sure that certain right-wing talking points are repeated on air. And I don't put it past Fox for a moment to choose a black correspondent to stir up racial animus. Williams was there four years ago to ask Carol Mosely Braun a question designed to undermine Howard Dean among black voters, and he's here now to undermine Obama among white voters.


Blogging For Choice 2007 

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

On Blog for Choice, we are asked to tell why we're pro-choice.

I'm afraid I don't have a moving or enlightening personal story. As best I can recall, the principle that a pregnant women should have the freedom to have an abortion if she so chose has always seemed self evident to me. But when I was younger, I was more interested in engaging the arguments of those who disagreed on subjects like whether abortion was wrong after viability or whether Roe was well grounded in constitutional law.

If I had to pick a single moment when the light went on, however, it was when I focused on the anti-abortion movement's widely-held belief (at least it was widely held back in the the '80s) that abortion could still be allowed in the case of rape or incest (by which they meant, essentially, in-family rape of teenage girls). All at once, I realized that the anti-abortion movement, with its superficially appealing rhetoric about protecting life and despising killing, was really about punishing women for having sex.

In short, it was a lie.

Since then, we have been exposed to one lie after another. Fronts pretending to be abortion clinics, murderers pretending to be "pro life", legislators pretending to care about the wellbeing of young girls, Supreme Court nominees pretending they have open minds.

And just yesterday, New York Times Magazine devoted an 8000-word cover story to a non-existent "post-abortion syndrome", which it dignifies by asking on the cover, "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?". The Times itself admits this is absolute nonsense:
When Arias talks about the effects of abortion, she’s so fervent that it’s hard to maintain her gaze. But the idea that abortion is at the root of women’s psychological ills is not supported by the bulk of the research. Instead, the scientific evidence strongly shows that abortion does not increase the risk of depression, drug abuse or any other psychological problem any more than having an unwanted pregnancy or giving birth. (Emphasis added.)
Another anti-abortion lie.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Because Filibusters Are Only For Important Things 

Not that this tells us anything we didn't already know, but yet another outrage from Senator Lieberman:

Lieberman, 1/19/07:
MS. BLOCK: Can you imagine a scenario where you would join in with a Republican filibuster to stop the resolution [against escalation in Iraq], if it comes to that?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: I can because I think that it – this is this important.
Lieberman, 2/10/06:
I did vote against the [Alito] filibuster cause I thought that, you know, it was time to move on.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Support the Well-Timed Period 

Go vote for ema of The Welltimed Period in the Medical Blog Awards. She's up for best medical blog and best ethics/health policy blog.


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