I overestimated the impact of Obama's most shrill and self-righteous supporters and assumed they would turn off other Americans the way they had alienated me. I don't want to poke a mostly dead hornet's nest -- especially now that a lot of the early zealots are madder at Obama than they are at me. But with hindsight it's clear I was oversensitive to three cohorts of noisy Obama supporters: mainstream media stars, self-righteous lefties, and fools who threw the word "racism" around carelessly.
The racism slur got old fast, especially in the pages of Salon. Back in 2003, I was guilty, for a time, of underestimating Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's appeal. While I praised his politics, I publicly expressed doubt that he was electable (um, note to self, I might have been right about that one, but that's ancient history). I was besieged by the online Dean Defense Forces, who used blogs and e-mail and letters to the editor to plead with me, some more nicely than others, to give the good doctor another chance. They called me short-sighted, myopic, politically cynical, even conservative. (You can read about it in my last online self-correction, "My Big Fat Mea Culpa.")
But the Dean backers did not accuse me of hating former wrestlers, doctors, Vermont politicians or men. I wasn't called the C-word or the B-word or a hag, harridan or harpie; nor was I called any of the gender-based terms of non-endearment you can find on my blog comments from back in the heat of the primary season.
I defended Hillary Clinton against sexist attacks because the same sexism was being directed at me. The sexism drove me as crazy as the crazy folks yelling racism, especially from the mainstream media. Read more...
Got that? Obama supporters = shrill and self-righteous. Clinton supporters = righteous. Charges of sexism = always totally just. Charges of racism = tiresome rants by "crazy people." Um, Joan, I defended Barack Obama against racist attacks because the same racism was being directed at me, quite often by white feminists who I had long considered my allies. Do we really need to debate again that there was virulent sexism and racism in this campaign season? Are we going to play oppression Olympics again? Is a woman who proudly published an article on Michelle Obama's rear and a riveting treatise on the growing popularity of more hair "down there" really the person to be carrying the banner for feminism?