The following excerpts are from blog posts which have had me thinking for days.  They aren’t isolated – other bloggers, opinionators and Smart People have also been writing about these issues.  But these excerpts sum up very nicely the ideas banging around my head right now.

 

First up, Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing about Michael Moore and Bill Mahar’s clever little quip: “I went into the polls voting for the black guy, and what I got was the white guy…”

But it really isn’t [clever]. In fact, it’s racist, and Michael Moore would do well to stop repeating it. It really is no better than the Kenyan anti-colonial bit, indeed it is a good deal worse. I said this yesterday on twitter, but it would be as if my Jewish accountant messed up my taxes and I said, "Dude, you’re Jewish, what the hell?!?!"

In fact, I’d be getting exactly what I deserved. If you paid more attention to Obama’s skin color, than to his speeches, the voluminous amounts of journalism noting his moderation, his two books which are, themselves, exercises in moderation, then you have chosen to be ignorant. 

You are now being punished for that ignorance. No one should feel sorry for you. Try not being racist.

 

On a different note, Steve Benen, writing about the anti-intellectualism in Rick Perry’s campaign talk, refers to something Paul Krugman wrote about 3 years ago:

What matters is what this tells us about anti-intellectualism in Republican politics today, and the fact that the Perry and Bush jokes always generate applause from conservative audiences.

Three years ago, Paul Krugman wrote a memorable column identifying the GOP as “the party of stupid.” The columnist explained, “What I mean … is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: ‘Real men don’t think things through.’”

 

Tacking yet a different direction, here’s Ta-Nehisi Coates again, talking about our reluctance to shoulder the responsibility for building a progressive society, and instead expecting our leaders to do all the work:

Somehow we got in our head that the Civil Rights movement happened because Martin Luther King was a really nice guy. We don’t really talk about the movement as an actual force, as applying force. We don’t think about what SNCC was really trying to do when they were risking their lives to register voters in the delta. When we think about people trying to kill them we think about evil, but we should think about power and fear.

 

Finally, Geoffrey Stone, writing about how our Constitution has truly progressive roots:

More fundamentally, however, the Constitution has served as the vehicle through which generations of Americans have made and remade their nation. When one steps back, as one should on Constitution Day, and considers the most profound changes in our society since 1789, it is easy to see that, by any reasonable measure, the Constitution has served in the long run as a progressive document that has enabled us to protect the rights, liberties and well-being of our people.

 

Though these four articles tackle different subject matter, they all suggest we really look at history, at our words and concepts, and encourage us not to over-simplify the hard work of shaping and maintaining a society which takes care of all of its citizens and the endeavors to which we put our talents.

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