Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How finger wagging is like hair touching: Lessons in priviledge


I wasn't going to write about the whole Jan Brewer/Barack Obama controversy. This has already been a long presidential election season and I need to pace my outrage lest I have a stroke. But last night, I caught Bill Maher discussing the issue with journalist Martin Bashir, detestable erstwhile MTV personality Kennedy (now doing something awful for Reason magazine) and the equally objectionable Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). Watching Rohrabacher and Kennedy obfuscate around this issue was headache-inducing. Both of them, like other conservatives who have weighed in on the episode, were being willfully obtuse in an effort to mask Brewer's display of racial privilege. 

Here's what happened, according to The Washington Post (video at the link): 
PHOENIX — President Obama and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) appeared to exchange heated words in front of reporters and other public officials on Wednesday as Obama arrived in this Southwestern city for the second stop of his post-State of the Union tour. The unusual confrontation--which included Brewer pointing her finger at Obama, and Obama walking away--centered on Brewer’s newly published account of a meeting she and Obama had at the White House in June, 2010, officials said. 
Obama descended the stairs of Air Force One and was greeted by Brewer, who was waiting for him along with other politicians in a traditional receiving line. Brewer offered Obama a letter, which she later said was an invitation to sit down with her to discuss Arizona’s economic “comeback” and to join her for a tour of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The encounter resulted in the photo above and, among black folks and allies, lots of angry discussion about the vagaries of white privilege and the uncommon level of disrespect received by our nation's first black president. (Very crunk dissection of the incident here.). Of course, the response from the right was incredulity accompanied by whining and the usual charge that the left manufactures charges of racism to rally the dirty hippies and constantly-aggrieved coloreds. 

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