Tomato, To-MAH-to

512px-Tomato_je

Or, to modify the expression: “You say ‘bold’ — I say ‘milquetoast banality’.

“You” in this case refers to Tom McKay and/or his editor over at mic.com, who just published an article about Hillary Clinton’s speech yesterday under the click-baity title:

In One Quote, Hillary Clinton Just Took a Bold Stance on Race in America

Let me spare you the trouble of clicking through. According to the article^, Clinton’s so-called “bold stance” consisted of saying the following:

…our problem is not all kooks and Klansmen, it’s also the cruel joke that goes unchallenged. It’s the offhand comment about not wanting ‘that kind of person’ in the neighborhood.

Dunno how bold that sounds to you? Mic.com seems quite pleased — they superimposed the quote over an image of Clinton’s face and everything.

To me. . . well, I’ma let Captain Janeway express my thoughts on the leadership contained therein:

eye roll captain janeway
Starfleet is not impressed.

Only in a political atmosphere where not one GOP candidate would at first acknowledge that the killings at Mother Emanuel were racially motivated (the stand-out copouts for me were Santorum calling it an assault on the “religious liberty” of Christians, Rand Paul blathering about people’s misunderstanding of “salvation,” and Huckabee declaring today that the government-sanctioned flying of a traitor nation’s Confederate flag in 2015 is “not an issue” worthy of comment by presidential candidates) — I repeat: ONLY in such cowardly and deceitful company can one deem “bold” the obvious truth that many individual racists exist who would never think of slaughtering a bible study group. 

(via)

We need — we should expect — we must DEMAND — so much more from our politicians than rhetoric that locates the problem of racism solidly within the words and actions of individuals. Where is the structural analysis? Where are the policy solutions?

Exhorting us all to speak politely in front of our neighbors and coworkers really does feel like an issue unworthy of candidate commentary.

There is a common plaint in the US: that we need to talk about race but don’t know how. It’s just so haaaard to talk about, people say — even in the midst of the prolific public discourse on race such that has been happening since Ferguson. It seems to be an insoluble issue. . . and it is.

Because it’s the wrong issue.

We don’t need to talk more about “race” — we need to talk about white supremacy. How it supports and is supported by every public system and institution. The ways it structures the lives and opportunities of every person, how it expands or contracts the horizon of those opportunities before any of us are even born. What we are going to do to dismantle it and its accreted historical effects.

That is the political conversation I am waiting for. That is the sound bite that I will be willing to call “bold.”

And so, politicians — in the borrowed words of a borrowing poet — I exhort you: HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME.

Hurry up.

We’re begging you.

It’s time.

It’s effing time.


[^ EDIT: Having now watched Clinton’s comments in their entirety, I am even more baffled by the editorial choice to highlight this particular comment — which is probably the least interesting or important statement in the entire speech, and comes after a significant section on the persistence of institutionalized racism.]

[Tomato image via. Editorial cartoon by Dan Wasserman via.] 

16 thoughts on “Tomato, To-MAH-to

    1. Thanks!

      I understand the dynamics of our system well enough to know that every politician’s public stances are calculated political moves. Even fierce and substantive rhetoric is no more than rhetoric at this point, a jockeying gambit intended to gain more *something* (dollars, attention, votes, etc).

      Doesn’t mean I’m not always hungering for more, though — from individual pols and the system alike!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am reminded of W.E.B. Du Bois and “The Souls of White Folks” after reading this post. Widely paraphrased here, but the general concept in this essay speaks to the inability of whites to ‘see’ white privilege. In that regard bold political conversations about idealized privilege and supremacy based on skin color and physical features is, according to Du Bois, an impossible dream. White privilege, and the ability to see what being white truly means, can only be accomplished by someone standing outside of whiteness, standing as the outcast and the defeated. Politicians do not seek change, they seek votes. To be bold is to face certain death in the political game and I can’t imagine anyone willing to toss aside their campaign dollars, their power, their hypocrisy to admit to their own privilege in an attempt to open a dialog.

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    1. And that is very much a defeatist attitude I admit, but my outlook at this point regarding this entire effing social order is pretty much in a nose-dive and I see the chasm only growing deeper.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You say “defeatist” — I say “bitter realism”! Either way, I think we’re in sympathy on the issue.

        Tangent, for a moment: has anyone EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE LANGUAGE called them “po-TAH-toes”?? These are the *true* questions that keep me awake and tossing in the night…

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        1. Yes, bitter realism is an apt description. At times I would like to have some hope, some faith in this very broken system but I just can’t drag up any great ‘YIPPEE, we’ve advanced’ moments or see change occurring with significance. I think that’s what pisses me off the most. How long have we been at all this trying to get female equity and gender and race, and just living like humans, RIGHT, and we’re supposed to be happy with all these little, crappy baby steps and then the ‘3-steps back’ agenda.
          Also, yes…stupid language, which, however I cannot understand why, as for, American peoples just don’t understand, and I believe therefore, try, to come together in peace, and all get along, and maybe learn how to speak it, the language, that is, therefore, I mean right, ya know because you know that English stuff and can have the ability to talk about it, plus teach others, which, as I believe in the end, is the goal, to teach and bring joy,as well as, and to create a better world for humanity. Thank you.

          *Please tell me you got this little bit of humor and are not speculating on my need for a stroke eval.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. As I go through posting some of my old (deleted) posts, I find myself glad to be returning them … but simultaneously dismayed how much personal agency is revered quietly between their lines. I understood there was something structural somewhere, but I understood that the way I understood astrophysics: something important for other people to understand.

    Now I know at least enough to be chagrined by that “bold” statement, which comes from a place like the one where I lived just a few years ago.

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    1. I understand that dismay! As much admiration (and mild envy! 😉 ) I feel for your accomplishment of 20 years of blogging…well, there’s plenty of my own thinking I’m happy to have not contained in a vessel quite so easy to revisit.

      Liked by 1 person

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