15 January 2008

Big Politics in America: An Arbitrary Media Review

MTBE typically avoids “big politics.” Hence, I didn’t blog much about the farcical Russian elections in December, and you shouldn’t expect too much about the upcoming election of Medvedev. Other places do it better, and frankly it all depresses me a little too much to invest the energy in writing it up.

But even in Moscow, it’s hard for me to avoid the spectacle of the US Democratic primaries.

All the US-based blogs and news sites I watch are littered with commentary on the politics of race and gender in the stirring Hillary vs. Barack culture war, though Yahoo News promised me this morning that the candidates are stepping back from the race flap.

In addition to accusations of Diebold-rigging in New Hampshire, Counterpunch featured two explanations of Obama’s curious appeal to the white middle class. And just today there appeared a prolix rant from Ishmael Reed on Gloria Steinem’s dubious editorial, "Women are Never Front Runners," printed in last week’s New York Times. Steinem’s piece, along with Lorrie Moore’s non sequitur commentary on the election in light of the perils of male adolescence, indicate that the NYT has become home of the most nonsensical, if not the most retrograde, race and gender politics.

This morning the sharp minds of Bob Herbert and David Brooks give further evidence to this claim, with observations such as these:

Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football. Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular. Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. (Herbert)

All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action, like Ward Connerly and Thomas Sowell, and critics of the radical feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners... This is the logical extreme of the identity politics that as been floating around this country for decades. Every revolution devours its offspring, and it seems the multicultural one does, too. (Brooks)
A diversity of dunce-osity.

Meanwhile, the MLK-LBJ analogy offered by Clinton last week has got HNN going, as some muddle-headed historians think that the claim and Obama’s counter-claim were actually about political history, rather than symbolic gestures about race and power.

Whatever. I guess the culture wars still sell.

Of course, I couldn’t help but be curious about what the Russian media was making of all this hoopla. The answer: remarkably little.

For the most part, Russian outlets seem more interested in McCain’s prospects, as they identify him as the main hard-line Russophobe in the running. The one exception I found was an article in business-friendly liberal Kommersant, “Под Хиллари Клинтон подкопали расовую почву [Hillary Clinton Undercut on Racial Grounds].” While the article maintained an even-handed “just the facts” style, there's a classic-Russian nationalist bit of commentary from user mm888:

Если президентом станет черный (что пока все-таки маловероятно), Америке конец. Негры и так уже качают права по поводу и без повода (что показывает хотя бы данная статья), а если негр станет президентом, у них крышу сорвет от вседозволенности. Начнется расовая дискриминация белых граждан, белых начнут оттеснять с управленческих должностей, от чего страна достаточно быстро развалится на кланы, на третьестепенные государства (увы, и это надо признать, негры в интеллектуальном развитии европейцам проигрывают – нет ни одного негра-философа, негра - великого писателя, негра- великого ученого; и это не расизм, а правда жизни).Ну вот, не только Эндрю Качинсу фонтанировать сценариями развития будущего)))))

If a black becomes president (and that’s still altogether uncertain), America is finished. Blacks already cause a stir, with or without any reason (as the article at least indicates), and if a black becomes president, they’ll have the protection to wangle without restraint. Racial discrimination against white citizens will start, whites will be pushed out of administrative positions, and the country will quickly fall into clans, into a third-rate government (alas, one must recognize that blacks lose to the Europeans when it comes to intellectual development—there isn’t one black philosopher, one great black writer, one great black scholar; this isn’t racism, but a fact of life). See, it’s not only Andrew Hutchins* who can gush forth with scenarios of how the future will unfold!

*An American Russia-watcher who infamously (for Russians) predicted the murder of Vladimir Putin earlier this year.
Ah, from the primordial racism to the predatory majority paranoia to the dig at a moronic American pundit…it’s nice when one little quote brings it all together.

Whether you prefer this type of racism or one of the American brands... it's a pick your poison kind of situation, I suppose.