Free Association

I link to a lot of people on my blogroll.

A link doesn’t necessarily imply complete agreement on every – or any – issue.    I link to David Strom, Fraters Libertas, Kool Aid Report and Ed Morrissey even though I’m not against the North Star line, am not Catholic, ignore the Packers (to say nothing of Notre Dame, Hockey and parrots) and never cared much for Iron Maiden, and oppose smoking bans.

Indeed, I link to the likes of Blanked Out, Blog of the “Moderate” Left, MNSpeak and Powerliberal even though I don’t agree on much with any of them.

So let’s take a brief – and final – run through last month’s week’s dismal little flap.

  • I’m pretty loathe to call someone “racist” frivolously.  When you apply it to a person, it implies a pretty broad character judgement – that, deep down in the pit of their gut, they believe other races are inferior to their own, down to the DNA level, and deserve to be subjugated, oppressed or eliminated.  It’s a serious accusation; its collateral implications involve Slavery and Auschwitz.
  • Tracy Eberly’s piece last week last month, which the local Sorosphere has been tossing about like a bunch of poo-flinging monkeys, had some background – an obnoxious commenter – and an underlying point (not all cultures are equally good, and other cultures can and should be criticized as freely as our own).  Observing this helps explain the piece, I think…
  • …but doesn’t excuse the fact that Eberly didn’t just push some rhetorical hot buttons about which Native Americans are legitimately sore – he jumped on them wearing big clunky boots.  He said some things that, depending on your point of view, one could call “dumb”, “insensitive” (yeah, like a real conservative is going to use that term) or “racist”. 
  • I distinguish between “saying racist things” and “being a racist”.  (Your mileage may vary, but then I didn’t really ask anyone else’s opinion).
  • I don’t disagree with Michael Brodkorb for whacking Anti-Strib from his blogroll.  He makes his reasons pretty clear in this post – and given his position, I can’t say as I fault his reasoning.
  • I don’t even blame the local Sorosphere for piling on.  That’s the way the “game” is played.  Que sera sera (or as John Kerry would say, Que seared…seared).
  • But Karl Bremer was deeply disingenuous (and playing to the Daily Mole’s audience’s ignorance) to turn Eberly’s article into a smear of the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB).  Nobody expects anything but skulking yellow hackery from Bremer, as worthless and yellow a “writer” as exists, an embarassment even to “Dump Bachmann”.  But neither does one expect “Drinking Liberally” (the left-of-center social group) to enforce any standards of behavior on the local Sorosphere, because, duuuuuude, they’re just a bunch of lefties who get together to drink!  So why is the MOB – whose charter is, if anything, less politically motivated than DrinkLib – suddenly accountable for its members’ opinions?   The MOB strives to be apolitical, and I have dozens of email invitations to local leftybloggers (and apolitical bloggers) to prove it.  The MOB is mostly center-right and/or non-political bloggers, of course; my theory is that too many regional leftybloggers are afraid to be seen in a  room with people they disagree with, but I don’t know.  At any rate, there is no enforcement arm to the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers; there is no MOB editorial board; the sole function of the MOB’s capi di tutti capi, Brian and Chad and King and I, is to call Terry Keegan and ask if it’s OK to invite 100 of our closest friends over to drink on a Saturday night.  The MOB  is a blogroll and two annual parties that are explicitly open to everyone who wants to show up.  And that means you, whether you’re Michael Brodkorb or Steve Perry for that matter.  The entire “when will the MOB police itself?” “argument” is akin to asking “when did you stop beating your wife”.  It’s a cowardly stawman set up (and supported) by yellow hacks with intent to obfuscate.
  • When the likes of Karl Bremer and Steve Perry start demanding accountability from “Drinking Liberally”, or Flash’s “Drinking Moderately”, for the gaffes and offenses and beliefs of their attendees , maybe they’ll have earned the right to squawk be worth a listen.  But nobody’s demanding that accountability, because it’d be dumb; that’s not DL or DM’s purpose!  Declaring the MOB different is purely agenda-driven wishful thinking. 
  • That being said, responding to this incident by claiming it’s “bowing to political correctness” to disapprove of the way Tracy expressed himself in his post – as claimed by several Anti-Strib supporters in Michael’s comment thread – is an evasion of responsibility.  Says me.  It’s something we expect, rightly, of the giggly fratboys and callow wannabees of the Sorosphere.  Man up and take your lumps.

I would never put a racist blog on my blogroll.  And I don’t think Tracy Eberly or Anti-Strib are “racist” in any sense that a victim of genuine racism (as opposed to agenda-flogging selective indignation) would recognize.  So they’ll remain on my blogroll; I’ll continue to support them – and hope and trust that they’ll express their views about race and culture a lot more artfully, if no less forthrightly.

As a friend, I’ll both agree with Tracy that our culture does have plenty to be proud of and is objectively better in balance for the vast majority of its people than most of the world’s other societies.  America, and the West that it leads and (with Britain) defined, eschews ritual genital mutilation, the stoning of gays, the lynching of adulterers, and…the list goes on.  Our language, unlike so many of the world’s tongues, doesn’t have different words for “human” that grow more derogatory the farther from “American” or “English” one gets.  Our society is far from perfect, but it strives to uphold not only the rights of women and social and cultural and ethnic minorities and has done more than any other society in history to atone for the wrongs of its own past than any other culture in history.  Tracy is right about this; I’d like him to express that point without pissing in Native Americans’ wheaties along the way, just for the sheer South-Park-olicious fun of it.

As a blogger who reads Anti-Strib (at the very least for Hot Telanovela Chick Friday) and supports the local center-right blog scene, I’ll criticize the offense – partly because actions DO have consequences to a principled conservative, and partly because I’d hate to see one of the Cities’ more prominent center-right group blogs get trashed for no good reason.  Anti-Strib has some good friends, some good writers (Badda, Kermit, and yes, Tracy) along with some notso-hotso ones (it’s Tracy’s party, he can invite who he wants), and above all some solid points to make.  Anti-Strib did yeoman work in exposing the casual, racist screedmongering of Minneapolis School Board member Chris Stewart and American Hot Sausage (which passed without a word from  Karl Bremer, and earned a flakky puff-piece from Steve Perry – even Eva Young covered that one); Anti-Strib makes a valuable contribution to the local blog scene, and will do so in the future.  They deserve (and have earned) both criticism and recognition; they also deserve, I think, the benefit of a doubt.

I’d hate to see Anti-Strib’s rep get shredded (or shredded further) over Tracy’s gaffe, or maybe worse, defending something that’s just not worth it.

35 thoughts on “Free Association

  1. OK, so here is a serious question. I posted a pissed off rant that got WAY more attention than it deserved. I clarified my points multimple times in posts that were dry as toast.

    So, given that I believe the points made in the post and have tried at least 5 times to clarify the points in much more friendly language, what would you do about the post?

    If I pull it, I’m caving to the liberals. I have thought of editting it, but that would be revisionist history and I don’t think that is a good idea.

    Up to this point, I have assumed that most of the readers were regulars and got the background and follow-up but now I have 100’s of new people reading just that post. Including that political gadfly Janasek.

    So, opinions?

  2. As one of the notso-hotso’s at the AS, I’ll say that you’re entitled to call em as you see em Mitch. But it wasn’t my post, therefore isn’t my responsibility.

    My point to Michael was that I think he was protesting a bit too much by making so much drama out of the issue…a month after the fact. And then telling everyone he didn’t read us regularly, which HE and WE know isn’t the case.

    The truth is, the only reason he balked so much was because of the terribly transparent attempt by Bremer to link it to the Republican party. He DID jump on the PC bandwagon to save face. And in doing so, did exactly what Bremer and Avidor wanted. Michael could have gone the much less dramatic route and confronted Tracy offline, but instead he made a big, fat stink. If we’re all being honest, then let’s ALL be honest here.

  3. Good questions.

    And to be fair (to me), I have read only one of the clarifications. It’s been a busy month.

    My opinion: to thine own self be true – and learn what you will from everything that happened.

    Re the post itself? Don’t pull it – it’s gonna be Googlecached anyway. Update the original post with links to your updates, as well (potentially) as addressing and linking to some of the criticism. Fess up to any mistakes you in your good conscience believe you might have made; gracefully accept the criticism you think is fair, reject and refute that which isn’t.

    Tackle everything – the good and the bad, the fair and unfair – head-on.

    And remember – dimwitted little trolls are hovering everywhere, wanting to do to “us” what…well, what we’ve been going to them. Or their version of it, anyway; not a one of them can carry Scott Johnson’s suitcase, mentally or morally. But they all think they’re going to be the next one to take down a Trent Lott, and they’re all soiling themselves thinking that Michele Bachmann or John Hinderaker or Tracy Eberly and the MOB will be the next notch on their Doctor Who lunch pail. They don’t care about context, about the bigger picture, or about what you really meant and who you really are. You and Anti-Strib have built a solid audience working as plate-throwing firebreathers.

    Don’t change. But do “Measure Twice, Cut Once”. It’s a tough habit to get into, but it does save on the aggravation. Illegitimi Non Carborundum.

    And while I don’t believe in Karma, I DO believe that what goes around, comes around.

    For at least one of the parties in this flap, maybe sooner than he/she/it thinks.

  4. I’m a little concerned about Mitch’s credibility… refering to me as a good contributor.

    You’ll have to answer to Harold, SMUN, Ordinary/White Devil/whatever-he-calls-himself-these-days, and whoever-else-we’ve-got-in-the-pooh-pooh-camp.

    (That said, I think I’ve got a brilliant piece from last year that I’m going to repost some day soon.)

  5. “”They don’t care about context, about the bigger picture, or about what you really meant and who you really are.””

    To be fair, they learned it from you guys, Mitch! You all have been great teachers and were the ones that set the bar to begin with. So the Karma you speak is coming back to roost, so to speak,


  6. I added links to 3 explaination threads and noted some edits that I would have made if I had it to do over.

    “Humanoid animals” was poor choice of words and did come off as racial when I was talking about their society.

  7. Flash left out:
    “…not a one of them can carry Scott Johnson’s suitcase, mentally or morally.”

    Meaning that the folks we’ve been great teachers for failed to learn the important lessons or gain knowledge from it.

    Of course, Flash (or someone) might say we have no lessons to impart or knowledge to pass on… that would be a very telling comment to make, and it would actually say more about the person making it than those he would target.

  8. Some peoples’ worlds is based around an ideology, not necessarily reality. This is exhibited on both sides of the aisle. I have learned much from both sides of the Blogosphere, to the point, if any direction, I have moved ever so little to the right. But I do find the tactics on the Right far more revolting than those on the left. Maybe it is because they claim a higher moral ground, while not exhibiting it.

    This is more an issue that I have with blogs like MDE, and what Mitch has become over the past year or so staring with the lead up to last years’ election.

    AntiStrib is in a totally different ball park. They have always been a rant blog, a go for the jugluar sensationalist environment. I never thought for an instant Tracy was racist, as I know home well enough (I think) that that is not the case. But the post itself was poor form, offensive, and he recognizes that now. To the point that I see a sincere effort on his part to amend himself. He could have just flew the might middle finger, in true AntiStrib fashion, but he didn’t. That says a lot to me, and those that know him.


  9. That’s right, Flash. Rather than go to Anti-Strib and discuss the Red Star’s love poem to Chinese socialized medicine, the discerning blogger can visit Kool Aid Report and enjoy a lengthy post on feces. With pichers!

  10. Rather than go to Anti-Strib…the discerning blogger can visit Kool Aid Report and enjoy a lengthy post on feces.

    Vive la difference!

    Dudes; in case y’all haven’t noticed, the real enemy is out there. She wants to send you to a re-education camp in Utah with all the other conspirators.

  11. Among the many things that bug me about all of this is that Anti-Strib has raised a legitimate issue — the unthinking romanticizing of Native American culture/history, to the detriment of the discussion of it — in a way that inhibits its honest and decent discussion.

  12. A good example of joelr’s point

    From Newsweek 1992

    “Chief Seattle did give a speech in 1854, but he never said “The earth is our mother.” He never said “I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train.” The chief lived in the Pacific Northwest. He never saw a buffalo.

    Those oh-so-quotable quotes were written by a screenwriter named Ted Perry for “Home,” a 1972 film about ecology. Perry wanted Native American testimony on environmental problems, so he made up some eco-homilies and stuck them in Chief Seattle’s mouth. ”

  13. Flash,
    I withdraw the speculation I typed at 3:48 pm… you seem to have a fair understanding of the Anti-Strib, warts and all. Refreshing to see it, too… what with all the hare-brained assumptions. 😉

  14. Thanks Flash, You can get the good scotch when you come to the Party.

    Joel R. I did do other more serious posts on those issues, with limited sucess. The nature of blogging is often engage and then debate. The post has engaged many people, so hopefully we can get a good discussion out of it.

  15. That’s true, too… he had some surprisingly (and very welcome) even-tempered comments and discussions from the opposition.

    If a snarking ranter who enjoys throwing Molatov poop-tails in comment sections can act like a reasonable guy, why can’t someone like… whoever these permenantly offended left-leaners are?

  16. “Doug has even managed to repress his massive ego and discuss like a civilized person. ” Well – that would make him nearly unique here.

    “I’m a rhetorical killing machine” – I agree, you kill words frequently 😉

    ” This is exhibited on both sides of the aisle. I have learned much from both sides of the Blogosphere, to the point, if any direction, I have moved ever so little to the right. But I do find the tactics on the Right far more revolting than those on the left. Maybe it is because they claim a higher moral ground, while not exhibiting it.

    This is more an issue that I have with blogs like MDE, and what Mitch has become over the past year or so staring with the lead up to last years’ election.”

    Truer words have never been writ. I share both sentiments, a mild move away from places like DU or KOS, but a recognition that the sanctimony of the right is incessant, and undeserved.

  17. Tracy: I guess that’s the way to defend the post, but, well, no. Just to take another example: if you’ve got some serious criticisms about some aspects of modern Black culture in the US (and, if you don’t, I do), you won’t be doing a good thing if you start shouting “nigger” from either the rooftops or your blog in what you describe as an attempt to start a serious discussion of the serious issues.

    And that’s what you did here. You just used a different term, but that’s all it amounts to. That doesn’t make you a bad or bigoted person; it does make you a person who did a bad, bigoted thing, and are now trying to justify it.

    “Engage, then debate”? Sure. But whether or not you do that in a legitimate way depends on how you “engage”, and, in this case, you did it wrong.

  18. Joelr-
    I hate to quote Steyn, because everyone else does. Nevertheless:

    The “indigenous people” in my corner of New Hampshire were not noted for environmental far-sightedness: They set up an encampment in one spot, ate everything, killed everything, trashed everything, and then moved a mile or two away to start all over again. But don’t let that get in the way of your romantic fetishization of the natives.

    What I find most annoying about what what Steyn calls “romantic fetishization of the natives” is that it’s a product of White culture. We are doing it to them again, shoving them into a box we Westerners have made. I grew up in South Minneapolis. Indians are crazy and interesting. They are not natural born ecologists.
    In Minnesota the native Americans got smacked down so hard in the Sioux Rebellion it’s amazing that it hasn’t become something like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I credit the Indians for this. In all the years I lived in S. Minneapolis the only time I felt like I was under the gun was when I lived across the street from Mister Lucky’s in the mid 80’s and Billy Blaze was doing his Butchery.

  19. Terry: remember that not everybody who reads Mitch’s blog is moderate-right or righter, and among folks who are moderate or left thereof, very few even know who Steyn is.

    So it’s a good thing to quote him, and better to throw a link. He’s terrific.

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