Sunday, October 2, 2005

Race and perception

Bob McElvaine has an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune: O.J., W, 'us' and 'them' - and truth 10/02/05.  As the title suggests, it deals with the gap between perceptions of events among African-Americans and white Americans.  But he puts the issue in a larger context.

He focuses on a particular problems of perception and understanding:

Although President Bush's approval rating has dropped sharply since the hurricane, there remains a hard-core group of supporters of Bush who will no more convict him of any failing than a California jury will find a celebrity guilty.

These Bush-backers castigate as Bush-whackers anyone who says anything critical of the president.

Like the stereotypical California jury, they simply refuse to pay any attention to the evidence against the accused, no matter how strong. ...

Bush was videotaped in July 2003 making what may well be the most irresponsible and outrageous statement ever made by an American president, challenging militants who wanted to attack Americans in Iraq by saying, "bring 'em on! ... We got plenty tough force there right now to make sure the situation is secure." More than two years and 1,900 dead American military personnel later, the situation is patently insecure. During the horribly botched reaction to Katrina, Bush was captured on videotape saying, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," not to mention his now infamous taped praise for incompetent FEMA Director Michael Brown.

I'm afraid that Bob is hopelessly stuck in the "reality-based community."  He just hasn't quite gotten with the "postmodern" Bush dynasty way of processing things.

I especially like the way he connects the demagoguery of the Nixon administration to the current Bush administration, which in many ways is the authentic spawn of the former:

That ideological and cultural divide in the nation remains as deep--and as significant--as the racial divide. It dates to the 1960s and was promoted by the Nixon administration. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew referred to the division as "positive polarization--to divide on authentic lines." In a memo to Nixon, Patrick Buchanan said the objective should be to "cut ... the nation in half; my view is that we would have far the large half." With the ongoing war in Iraq and in the aftermath of Katrina, the "we" of which Nixon was, and Buchanan and Bush remain constituent parts, is no longer "far the larger half," but the polarization that divides the nation on inauthentic lines remains. That polarization is not and never was positive. It constitutes a threat to the nation as serious as the racial polarization that has just returned to our range of vision.

No comments: