Thursday, October 7, 2010

I get their point. It’s just not funny.

via RacismReview:

Inside Higher Education has an account of intense debates over a Klan cartoon run by the Eastern Michigan University student paper.

The newspaper editors gave the usual lame non-apology apology, which many also found hypocritical or offensive:

We understand the “You Are Here” cartoon may have offended some readers. We apologize for the lack of sensitivity some felt we showed for publishing the piece. The cartoon points out the hypocrisy of hate-filled people. Its intent was to ask how can someone show affection for one person while at the same time hating someone else enough to commit such a heinous act as hanging. We wish to remind readers that they are free to express their opinion on our discussion boards and we hope to continue to foster free thought and open discussion on campus and in the community. – The Eastern Echo
One sharp comment after the editorial was this:
The cartoon comes nowhere NEAR “pointing out hypocrisy.” The decision to publish that cartoon is a travesty, no matter how you measure it. In a civilized society, we have to recognize that some things are never funny. If you don’t know what these are, then you need to go back to school.

So, the editors apologize because “some felt” they showed a lack of sensitivity, not because they really did show a lack of sensitivity. One wonders if they would similarly allow a cartoonist mocking of some people in Nazi uniforms making silly superficial comments near a major German Nazi death camp like Auschwitz. I doubt it.

It appears that these students, including the cartoonist, need a good set of lessons about the scale and brutality of the thousands of lynchings that whites have conducted over the last century to the present day. For many African Americans and others that tree and noose imagery in the cartoon conjure up painful memories of brutal killings of black Americans (and some other Americans of color) by mobs of white Americans. About 3,513 lynchings of black men and 76 of black women were recorded for the years 1882 to 1927, but many more did not get recorded.

Joe writes more, but here're my thoughts:  
Many lynchings did play out as entertain as well as terror. Family outings, picnics, etc. Some were advertised in out-of-state papers. I think the first food carts or something like it started during this time. So it’s perfectly reasonable to think that perhaps some couples did meet at a lynching.

As strict commentary, it’s poignant. I wouldn’t describe the dichotomy as hypocricy, but racism does present a duality where some people are worthy of, say, political asylum whereas others as not.

The problem with the cartoon is that it’s supposed to be funny. It’s not funny. Imagery aside, it’s obvious that someone died – that’s what a lynching is. When is murder funny? Taking them at their word that they wanted to start a serious converation, they should’ve used one of the pictures from the WITHOUT SANTUARY project on the front page above the fold. I think the best way to deal with this is for someone to teach them how their on duality, the professed desire to illustrate the workings of racism contrasted by their own demonstrated lack of . . . I’m not sure of the right word. Do you really have to be sensitive to understand that murder isn’t funny? Are they not aware that lynching imagery is representative of murder and terror, and if so, what does that say about American society, education, and collective memory?

I don’t know. I my mind, I can only imagine these young, probably Obama-supporters, retreating to “intent” in response to all the negative action and becoming conservatives. I can hear them arguing that they’re not racist because they voted for Obama/have black friends/have dated black classmates. But that’s how racism works. An individual can hold simultaneously incongrous thoughts. It’s called cognitive dissonance. They need to understand that the ability to demonstrate affection for other whites didn’t mean lynchers couldn’t also hate those deemed “inferior,” nor does their affection for each other excuse their psychopathy in celebrating murder, torture, and terror. No one, I hope, would argue, “Yeah, they throw a fair for the lynching. But they’re really good people.” In that same way, people’s intent doesn’t excuse their impact, as it were. Whatever their intent, they should’ve known even intuitively that such imagery would not be well-received. You don’t have to be a black person or a person of color to be offended. You just have to be a person.

I get their point. It’s just not funny.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This isn't too complicated. If you disagree with me, I'm more than happy to have an honest discussion. I'm quite open to learning new facts and ideas. I'm dying for a conservative to explain their ideas in a sensible way.

But, I do have rules, and they also apply to those who agree with me. They just get the benefit of my already knowing the fact they'll be referring to.

So, here're the comment thread rules:

1 - Use facts.
2 - Refer to policy.
3 - Don't rely on theories and conjectures. Show me how, for example, a public health insurance option will lead to "rationing" of health care.
4 - No unfounded attacks on any entity.

If you break those rules, I will edit your comment to my own whimsical satisfaction.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I'm not going to entertain too much pro-white/racism-denying discussion. I want this to be a space to discuss strategies to fight racism, not space where I have to fight racism. I want anti-racists to be able to come here for a mental respite. If what you're interested in doing is attempting to demonstrate the fallacy of anti-racism by repeating the same ole comments and questions and accusations we hear all the time, please do that somewhere else.

Share This Article

Bookmark and Share

But Don't Jack My Genuis