Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why isn't he funny?

As many of you know, I love scary conservatives. Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlafly amuse me more than offend me. (I know, I'm evil.) But, this guy, Michael Savage, I just can't laugh at. I don't know that his words are inherently more offensive or wrong. But I just can't laugh at him. Perhaps (and I'm just thinking out loud here--I don't know my subconscious near as well as I should) it's because Robertson and Schlafly appeal to religion. Savage doesn't. I guess I credit the former two with good, but misguided, intentions; but Savage just seems kind of evil and mean-spirited. He may be religious, I don't know, and he probably is (though not in any recognizable Christ-like way). But because he doesn't really make that the basis of his appeal, maybe that's why I just don't like him rather than finding him interesting and wrong.

Anyway, listen to this clip. He is seriously getting it all in: racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. He's expertly playing on feelings of many working class white men that they are being marginalized. he uses the police department as an example, saying that because of affirmative action and subjective tests given by "lesbians and minorities" they are not getting the good jobs anymore and that unqualified "dummies" become "the white man's captain."

"Do you understand what I just said to you? You do if you're a white man."

This is "a low grade communist revolution" according to Savage.

Objectively, some of his claims are quite laughable, and, indeed, the sorts of things I generally laugh at. But something about hearing this man makes me literally nauseous. Perhaps a lot of it is that Robertson and Schlafly generally sound patently ridiculous. But Savage? I could see my dad listening to him and totally being sold on the idea that he is a victimized white male. I could see thousands of working class white men being fed the same lies.


Anonymous said...

He's expertly playing on feelings of many working class white men that they are being marginalized.

Umm, how is that any different from the Revs. Sharpton and Jackson, or feminists, or pro-gay activists, or just about any left-wing group? I guess the difference is that you agree with the left-wing crazies, not the right-wing ones.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I think you forgot to finish the quote, "Do you understand what I just said to you? You do if you're a white man." It reads, "Do you understand what I just said to you? Well, you do if you're a white man and you're in the police department."

And have you read any Gloria Ladson Billings? She actually does claim that things like science and logic are tools of whites to opress blacks... she also likes to use slavery imagery in her writing... I guess that kind of plays to the emotions of some people.

Jennifer said...

In general, I am not a big fan of Sharpton or Jackson (though Sharpton's speech at the 04 Dem. convention was really the best one there). As for other groups, such as feminists, gay activists, etc... I believe in any group you will find people who will appeal to peoples' emotions rather than to their logic. And I think that is a way of manipulating them. And it's not good. But certainly not all do (just as not all conservatives work in the same way as Michael Savage).

Here's the difference between Savage and black, feminist, and gay leaders who make oppression visible (and make logical appeals to both society and their target groups): there is actual oppression there. Black folks, women, lesbians and gays... those people ARE disadvantaged in our society.

White men are not disadvantaged as white men. They may certainly be disadvantaged... they may be poor, working class, gay. disabled, etc. But they do gain privilege from their race and their class. That doesn't mean that they're bad people. But they are privileged and often black and feminist groups can raise consciousness about this privilege.

Sorry about the quote. Not thinking to look at the transcript (duh!), I was just writing stuff down as I was listening. Thanks for pointing it out, however, I don't feel that it really alters my argument.

And, no, I haven't read any Billings. I have read feminist critiques of science before, though. I don't know that I agree with them, but I don't think they're appealing to emotion. However, I can certainly see where slave imagery might :-)

Anonymous said...

White men aren't disadvantaged as white men?? Then what does affirmative action do? That's like if I said, blacks weren't disadvantaged on busses, whites just got to sit in the front.

The quote is important, because he was making a very specific point, not broad generalization.. he was appealing to experiences actual people have had, not sentiments of a large population... as you are claiming.

Can you find any leftist who doesn't appeal to emotions? Social justice, equity, etc, are completely emotional terms, as they have no real concrete definition. Leftists often frame arguments in terms of good vs. evil, such as "we're FOR kids".

Jennifer said...

Re: Affirmative Action-- it's hard to argue that white men are "disadvantaged" in this society. When AA programs ARE in place, white men still get a disproportionate number of the top jobs, simply because they are more likley to posses the required qualifications. AA programs typically take diversity into account among qualified applicants. E.g., if two people have the same qualifications and would probably do equally well in a job, the black woman might get chosen over the white woman. Or a white woman over a white man. Or whatever.

AA, even if we are going to say that it effects a sizeable minority of white men (which is not really true, but definitely a widely held myth--most people do NOT work in AA workplaces) hardly constitutes a general disadvantage for white men as a class.

White men make up the majority, by far, of business heads, governmental leaders, etc. AA has clearly not disadvantaged white men as a class. I'm not saying AA programs are unproblematic. But I am saying that it doesn't really diminish white and male privilege.

Re: the quote-- you are right that that quote was part of making a point. However, it is part of a broader theme in his broadcast of appealing to the emotions of white males. I just heard a sentence that made it explicit and wrote it down quickly :-).

Re: emotions-- Equity is emotional? Really? I think it's pretty concrete, actually! That being said, as I said before, people on all locations in the political spectrum appeal to emotions. "The sanctity of marriage," "protecting the family," those signs with aborted fetuses... I agree that politicians tend to frame things in good v evil terms, but that's not just the lefty ones! Look at GWB's framing of the war, or Rush Limbaugh's framing of democrats. Or my dad's framing of Hillary Clinton ("evil... she's just evil. No, I don't know what she's ever done. But she's evil." --my dad's not a politician, but listens to them too much!).

And, dude, everyone says that they're for kids. It's kind of funny actually.