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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers: The Republican Affirmative Action Baby

I'm a huge supporter of affirmative action. I believe that if faced with two candidates of equal qualifications, there should be an acknowledgement of the institutional oppression, bigotry and intolerance that the member of an oppressed minority group had to endure in order to become equally qualified. Given over two hundred years of unfair treatment of women, the poor, and people of colour, I think affirmative action is fair. That being said, Harriet Miers is the exact reason why Republicans hate minorities. Harriet Miers is the exact reason why Republicans can't stand affirmative action -- they don't understand it. I believe that there is an inherent benefit in having a woman on the Supreme Court; when women's issues like abortion, maternity leave, and equal pay for both genders comes up, I think it behooves the Supreme Court to have a member who knows something about being a woman. But, nominating a person for their minority status alone (which is not how affirmative action works) is the Republican version of affirmative action. Unlike Democrats, Republicans are so "colour-struck" (or, in this case, gender struck) that they are willing to invoke the idea of affirmative action in this belittling and condescending fashion. They have found a woman whose only qualification seems to be that she is pro-life and was the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association. Moreover, is anyone else offended by Bush and company's treatment of Miers? Rather than treat her as a serious, free-thinking and intelligent candidate, as they did Roberts, Bush and company have been citing her willingness to be quiet, speak when spoken to, and her sense of political propriety. Any second now, she's going to pick up a vacuum and serve a meatloaf. Notice how this is exactly how Republicans treat people of colour -- as sub-humans, unworthy of treatment as real people rather than weak-minded stereotypes. And they wonder why minorities overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

21 Comments:

Blogger phillyjay said...

"Notice how this is exactly how Republicans treat people of colour -- as sub-humans, unworthy of treatment as real people rather than weak-minded stereotypes. And they wonder why minorities overwhelmingly vote Democrat."

When you say this, are you talking about republicans in general?Some indivisual republicans?I really don't see republicans treating minorities as sub-humans. To me most simply have a different policitical view nothing more.I've seen democratics and liberals treat minorities as less than, so nobody is any better to me.

10/04/2005 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

Phillyjay, just to get a frame on this debate, are you in any way a minority?

I know it sounds like a rude question, but it's not meant to be. I honestly think that, say, a white man sees racial relations differently than a latino one. Or an Asian man might see gender relations differently than a black woman.

I know that, being part of the gender minority, the Republican party as a whole (and the arguments of many individual Republicans) have put me into a sub-human caste. Hell, in some of their eyes I have less rights than a fetus does!

My reproductive freedoms beyond just abortion are unimportant, but men's reproductive freedoms are on everyone's mind (viagra is covered by most insurances, but BC is not or if it is it is so expensive). That's assuming I can even get my meds, because many states allow a pharmacist to deny my prescription and give me a lecture on it. The same applies to EC - which is also denied to many rape victims in hospitals because of a lack of proper legislation protecting their rights.

I am seen as the gatekeeper to morality, especially sexual morality. Republicans support "abstinence-only" education that says that it's a woman's responsibility to control a man. That if a woman loses her virginity before marriage, or has sex with more than one man, then she is diminished somehow. The same kind of onus is not put on their encouragement of male virginity. Men are sex-crazed beasts in their mind, which means that if we women don't stop them from "getting what they want" that we are at fault.

Their touting of traditional gender roles as the only acceptable model makes it that much harder for me to achieve my goals of having a career. They want women to believe that we can't "have it all" (the way men have been doing for years) - it's either have a career and be a lonely spinster all your life, or be a stay-at-home mom and be happy and fulfilled. Who cares if right now being a stay-at-home mom puts the onus on women to run everything without giving them recognition for their hard work? Who cares if traditional marriages tend to hurt women more than help? Male responsibility to the family be damned! Men can have it all, women can't.

And someone like me? I'm just a hairy-legged, man-hating, lesbian because I think women deserve to be given the same rights and respect as men.

Oh, and another way that Republicans dehumanize minorities? Religion. All their "God this" and "God that" bullshit, their fight against evolution and science in general, their trying to get God into government, their "moral" legislation that they back up with allegations that it's "God's will" or whatever... all that marginalizes me, an atheist, and all other religion-related minority groups and/or all people who don't belong to the Abrahamic religions.

And, don't think I give the Dems a blanked endorsement. I'm completely in Media Girl's camp on the matter: Dems these days are just Republican Lite. They've used and abused us minorities for too long; in the next election I am seriously considering voting for the worst of two evils (Republicans) simply because I don't think the Democrats deserve my vote with the way they've been treating us. I want the Dems to see that becoming Republican is not the way to win back the country.

10/05/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Sheldiz said...

i think, if i read it correctly, phillyjay's concern was the generalization of all republicans as hating minorities. which of course is not the case. republicans get a lot of bad press in many circles because of their TYPICAL (not required, but typical) stance on hot button issues such as abortion and affirmative action. however, there are other issues that are central to SOME PEOPLE'S lives that make them vote republican. labor relations, union law, death/estate tax, etc are a few issues that don't get the sexy press that a good pro-life rally gets, but are still issues nonetheless. i think its dangerous to make a generalized statement that an entire party hates minorities. in a system where we are essientially forced to pick between two parties, there are so many people that may align themselves with one party but not necessarily ALL of that party's platform. My parents are an example of this. Both are registered republicans and typically have voted on party lines. This is not because they hate minorities or think abortion is murder -- its because they're both in the construction industry and feel very strongly about union regulation and labor legislation. i think on this blog and others lately there has been a lot of generalizing going on... i think this is dangerous because we would never want people to write us off or form opinions about US strictly based on a generalization. we fall into the danger of being able to 'dish it out but not take it'. so anyway, after that long winded rant..... back to work =)

10/05/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

When I read Jenn's post, I assumed she was talking about the Republican party and the majority of its representatives within it, not individuals who vote Republican. I think Jenn is spot-on when it comes to her critique of the party policy, upheld by many of its reps, and the treatment of minorities as sub-human. That was also what I was trying to illustrate.

And it's not "strictly based on generalization" - I gave several concrete examples of party stances that put certain minorities as less important than the white, male, Christian majority. Jenn, in her various posts on here, has given examples of how race comes into play with them.

That's not a generalization - it's an observation based on the data accumulated from several years of a Republican-controlled country.

10/05/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

For the record, I don't think that a person needs to self-identify as member of a minority group within this or any political discussion.

That being said, I honestly believe that anyone who votes Republican hates minorities at some important level. That doesn't make every GOP voter Trent Lott, but that doesn't mean they get invites to the next NAACP National Convention. Hate is not something to be ashamed of or hidden or denied. It's an important American political phenomena that deserves recognition. It's a great motivator. And yes, Republicans (the Party and it's people) hate minorities.

The very concept of 'minority' American citizens offend basic Republican principles of fairness, individualism, and equal legal treatment. The idea that a group of American citizens have faced unequal treatment over American history and now deserve considerations that benefit their group in the present day shorts out Republican neurons; social and legal equality between American citizens they can handle, but economic parity among all citizens and political leadership by minorities over all Americans overloads Republican belief in Madisonian pluralism. Just being a 'minority' is anti-Republican, and explains why all the prominent minority Republican pundits - Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Larry Elder, Alan Keyes - are considered self-hating minority sellouts by their respective communities and Republicans at large.

The difference between Democrats (and by extension, liberals) and Republicans (and by extension, conservatives) on minorities? Democrats hate the darker nations, but are willing to lie, cheat, steal from and converse with them to achieve electoral success. Republicans hate the darker nations, and don't want to see, hear, touch, taste, or smell what they consider the unwashed brown masses, especially since they've had little need for their support to gain electoral success.

It's very true that people sign on with a political party and do not support the entirety of the party's platform. Voting Democrat means that a person supports abortion and the social welfare state and environmental concerns that don't always help big business in the short term; every Democrat doesn't have to be a pro-choice welfare mother who rides a bicycle to work, but all must know where they stand on those issues. However, moderate Democrats still affect party policy; moderate Republicans have zero control over the GOP today. None. If a person votes Republican, they cast their lot with anti-intellectual Christian zealots who fear all dark-skinned young men in airports and shopping mall parking lots, and could care less what Draconian measures their elected leaders enact to police the young and the dark and the male.

Lastly, after the Hurricane Katrina debacle, I do not fathom how a person can make the argument that the GOP, does not have a color problem. And a sexuality problem. And a gender problem. And a poverty problem. Total control of the three branches of government and people waited days to drown in their own homes on American soil? It's not hard to be irate at that travesty when the GOP-controlled Congress and our President rushed to 'save' a young White woman in a persistent vegetative state for years.

10/05/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I was in fact talking about the Republican Party, as tekanji said.

But more importantly, I think something has to be said about free choice to associate. Republicanism (and Democratism) is not an unconscious groupthink phenomenon -- it is a real organization with real people controlling it and people have the choice to associate and not associate with it (through party registration).

In my mind, that means that if you choose to associate yourself with the Republican party (or any organization) then you'd better be damn well willing to associate yourself with every skeleton in that organization's closet. I think it's disingenous to join an organization, call yourself a member, and then demand that critics of the organization not include you in their criticism.

Just because you're an American doesn't mean that you agree with everything Bush does. But that also doesn't mean that one can't treat America as an entity unto itself that all Americans are a part of. Americans should be willing to take responsibility for what an organization that they are apart of does, even if they themselves disagree with it.

Besides which, if you're a fiscal conservative and that's why you're a Republican, then you don't care about minorities. Certainly not enough to place their issues over your own economic concerns.

Bottom line: Republicans don't care about us. Democrats don't care about us. In a two-party system, is it so difficult to imagine that both parties could be willing to screw over the marginalized?

10/05/2005 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/05/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

(edit too many typos)


Tenkaji:

I am ethnically jamaican/black, but why that matters in the first place I don't know.And yeah that is kind of an insulting thing to ask, almost like you're asking me in a nice way if I'm white guy since I have this view, but I'm angry.

Sheldiz:

You pretty much NAILED it.Thanks :)

James:

"That being said, I honestly believe that anyone who votes Republican hates minorities at some important level"

I really really disagree with that one.I mean this kind of talk sounds like the few very conservative republicans who say anyone who vote demcratic or is left leaning hates america and it's freedoms.If what you say is true for republicans, then is what I said about democrats or liberals true in general?

Jenn:

Still, even if you're just talking about the Republican Party rather then the people, like I said before it's simply different politics at work/different beliefs.I don't mind critique of either party, but I don't like broad generalizations for political parties like anti-minority or anti-american

10/05/2005 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Philly,

America works and thinks and breathes in broad strokes, in gross generalizations. I spent a lot of time explaining what I intended by the word 'hate' in my last post. In the context I outlined, I believe my perspectives there are sensible. To answer your question (although I believe my previous post kinda covers it), the Democrats are no better than the Republicans.

That doesn't means anyone gets a "I don't hate minorities" pin for their lapel.

And to be blunt, the Right isn't always wrong when they characterize the Left as hating America and its freedoms, just disingenuous. The Right wants to fight an inefficient, ineffective war on terror that they can exploit for crass electoral gain, while the Left wants to win the war on terror with international cooperation, law enforcement, non-ideological intelligence analysis, and military options as a last resort. I think it's clear who loves America there.

On the domestic front, the Right does not understand liberal reluctance to interact and enjoy street-level, hometown pub, construction worker Americana. In this respect, the Left loves America, as an idea, but can't relate to evangelical Christian, blue-collar, heterosexual, ESPN, Guns & Ammo America. I can't. Whenever inner-city crime or illegal immigration or abortion comes up in conversation, I have this problem. I can't have a conversation on inner-city crime or illegal immigration with a random red-blooded American. I can't deal with veiled racism toward 'problem people', those trapped by poverty in our nation's ghettos or those who smuggle themselves into our nation to work without respect for meager wages. I don't want to hear street level American racism or xenophobia or nativism. I don't want to hear people who confuse patriotism with silence. Americans commit these sins all the time. All the time. And I don't know how to relate to that.

I know some people dislike extreme rhetoric in political discourse, and I respect that. But I offer this: what's worse, when the rhetoric is extreme and passionate and cutthroat, or when that rhetoric accurately describes the American political landscape?

10/05/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Kaede said...

*applauds* Very well said, James....hear, hear....(and iawtc).

10/06/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

For the record, I didn't ask about phillyjay's minority status as a way to say "if you aren't a minority, you have no place in the debate!" I wanted to bring privilege in the mix, but I did it in the wrong way. And I'm sorry about that.

I was just wary of bringing up the P-word right off the bat because my experience is that many people, especially if they have lots of privilege, get offended by the mere sight of the word.

That being said, I do think that our minority status, and our privilege, has a place in a debate about the treatment of minorities. Is anyone going to contest that my perspective as a rich, white, secularly Jewish, Atheist woman is going to be different than that of the people who don't have my class and race privilege, or my particular brand of minority mix?

Which brings me to the point I wanted to make in my first point but screwed up on by putting my foot in my mouth.

phillyjay said: I really don't see republicans treating minorities as sub-humans.

That is a very privileged statement. To imply that because you don't see oppression that it doesn't exist is marginalizing the oppression that many suffer at the hands of the majority group in question. Just because your privilige gives you the ability to ignore the oppression, it doesn't mean that everyone else has same luxury.

Is it acceptable for me to say, "I really don't see white people treating black people as sub-humans" to dismiss an argument about white privilege? Or for a man to dismiss male privilege by saying, "I really don't see men treating women as sub-humans"? What about a straight person talking about heterosexual privilege? What about a rich person talking about class privilege? When is the line crossed from "acceptable argument" into dismissing oppression?

This is a discussion about privilege, oppression, and our government. Every Republican, and everyone who identifies as a Republican, has the privilege to not see the way the party oppresses minorities. And that, really, is an important point that is ignored by the "not all [majority group individuals] are x!" argument.

10/06/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

I meant to say I'm not angry, when you originally asked me if I'm a minority.A little typo I thought I fixed, so no offence was taken.

"phillyjay said: I really don't see republicans treating minorities as sub-humans.

That is a very privileged statement. To imply that because you don't see oppression that it doesn't exist is marginalizing the oppression that many suffer at the hands of the majority group in question. Just because your privilige gives you the ability to ignore the oppression, it doesn't mean that everyone else has same luxury."

Whaaat??Because I don't see republican party as racists and oppressors AS A WHOLE, I'm priviledged??What I said isn't privledged, it's COMMON SENSE.

Let me repeat what I said the first time:

"I really don't see republicans treating minorities as sub-humans."

I'm sorry, but I refuse to label republicans like this.If you want to call me privledged, be my guest.I've been called worse things.

10/06/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

I was saying that it's privileged to imply that because you haven't seen something, it doesn't exist. That is what I felt the statement in question was saying. If I'm wrong, then I'm sorry for misrepresenting your point.

And you didn't say all republicans. You said that you didn't see republicans doing it, period. By bringing up the argument "not all republicans believe [x]" it takes away from the discussion about oppression and the republican party that Jenn was trying to make.

If you disagree with any specific evidence Jenn, James, or I have brought up to prove our point then the way to dispute it is by proving counter examples or discussing the points we made. The latter can be done in a variety of ways; showing how our evidence isn't part of Republican policy in specific, but is rather a nationwide epidemic, or trying to argue that the stated problems aren't actually oppressing minorities, etc.

Just saying that 1) dems are bad people too, and 2) you haven't seen republicans, as a whole, opressing minorities is not good enough. No one was trying to say that being a republican automatically makes you an oppressor. And to imply that dismisses the validity of examining the ways that the republican party, and many of its reps (as well as some of its constituents), promote harmful, oppresive practices and laws.

10/06/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

I'm going to simply agree to disagee at this point.

10/06/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

phillyjay, I respect your right to bow out of this conversation with an "agree to disagree".

However, before you go, I would appreciate very much if you would do me the favour of answering one thing: Why don't you want to address the specific arguments brought up with concrete counter examples?

I can't believe the position that Republicans aren't anti-minority is an impossible thing to argue. I just don't understand how dismissing Jenn's argument as invalid is preferable to actually taking the time to make a reasoned discussion with researched counter-examples.

Again, if you don't want to answer this please don't feel that I'm pressuring you. I don't want to put any onus on you, but if you feel that it is within your comfort zone to address the question that I asked I would very much appreciate it.

10/06/2005 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

Sigh, alright I'm goling to try this again Tenkaji.First off, I didn't say I don't see republicans treating others minorties as less then at all, period.I don't know if you guys read me wrong or what, Sheldiz seems to be the only one who got what I was trying to say.

What I'm trying to say is that the republican party does not view minorities as subhumans.That's all.You can find examples of indivisual republicans doing what you describe but as a whole they're not.You can do the same for democrats, liberals, and progressives.I'm not downplaying any issue, I'm not making priviledged statements, I'm not denying oppression, or saying "see they do it too!" to dissmiss an argument.

10/07/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Philly, I get what you are trying to say. I thought your only concern the whole time was that you shied away from blanket generalizations about political groups. That's fine.

I think the disconnect here involves people who believe a whole group or organization should not be responsible for the actions and statements of some of its members, and those who believe they should be.

I can respect those who think that the entire Republican Party should not be deemed 'anti-minority', even though I don't share their assessment. In truth, the more moderate view is needed, because it's not always easy for minorities to refrain from the knee-jerk "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" mentality.

So yeah, I didn't see anything problematic with your comments, Philly.

10/07/2005 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

i think on this blog and others lately there has been a lot of generalizing going on... i think this is dangerous because we would never want people to write us off or form opinions about US strictly based on a generalization. we fall into the danger of being able to 'dish it out but not take it'. - Shelly

I disagree. Opposing political generalization makes sense, but I disagree with the notion that when minorities question the Republican Party's commitment to racial equality or economic justice or simple human decency for all American citizens they are making unfounded generalizations. The Republican Party's Southern Strategy would never have needed Ken Mehlman's apologies to Black America had the Party not engaged in divisive, anti-minority policies to gain electoral success. The GOP opposed all landmark civil rights legislation, decry affirmative action, denigrate women-in-combat, attack gay marriage, and consider nativism the only response to illegal immigration. If this shouldn't be called 'Republicans hating minorities', fine - back that up.

Leftist minorities are always put on the defensive when they characterize conservative opposition as anti-minority. I have no problem with that. But it's not an obvious truth that all Republicans don't hate minorities. If someone believes that, cool, but that needs to be supported with something other than 'generalizations are wrong' and the Golden Rule. I want to see proof - otherwise, the question becomes part of reasonable political discourse, and people need to discuss it. And frankly, I'd rather go over the anemic Hurricane Katrina response instead.

10/07/2005 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Sheldiz said...

James -- i do firmly believe that generalizations, no matter what the topic at hand, can be dangerous and can be a gateway to intolerance. I also believe that i DID give a precise example of republicans that do not hate minorities in my above comment -- regarding my parents and their political leanings. Feel free to re-read it. I'm not saying there are not MANY MANY republicans, espcially those in arenas of high political position and influence, who do not respect minorities. I'm not taking anything away from the argument that this is true. I'm merely saying that I, for one, think that when we use generalizations (and i really do mean 'we', me inculded), we risk our points losing credence due to stereotyping. And in the political topics that affect our age group the most, we CAN NOT afford to be dismissed. My point is not about the topic at hand, its about how we address any topic at hand. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with the Golden Rule, and if more people lived by it, we as country wouldn't be in half the mess we are today.

10/07/2005 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"I also believe that i DID give a precise example of republicans that do not hate minorities in my above comment -- regarding my parents and their political leanings." - Sheldiz

I don't want to discuss your parents. I don't think anything negative of them. But while you asserted they are examples of Republicans who do not hate minorities, you offered them as evidence of people who vote party-line GOP because of personal interests like construction industry labor. Voting for a political party for personal economic interests and not hating minorities are two different, but non-mutually exclusive actions.

Again, I don't want to discuss your parents. I don't think they are racist; their daughter isn't if that's any indication. But while generalizations suck, one longtime problem of minority backlash to conservative institutions like the GOP is that people can't call the organization what it is without being accused of intolerance.

I don't think it's logical to review the Twentieth Century history of the Republican Party and come away with the impression that some individual Republicans may hate minorities, but the GOP itself, including its voters, are not anti-minority. That doesn't compute for a party that routinely plays Willie Horton ads to get its standard bearers elected, that attacks rappers for discussing gun violence while gun manufacturers are among the Party's largest contributors.

Black voters were unfairly turned away from the polls in 2000, told they were felons when they were not. Georgia GOP politicians back I.D. cards for all voting purposes, and then ignore its disproportionate antagonism to poor and minority voters who can't afford the expense. Today, even Harriet Miers receives lessons in GOP intolerance towards female ambition, if she compares her reception to that of Chief Justice John Roberts. I'm tired of having to call a spade a club to keep people happy.

10/07/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Sheldiz said...

that's fine. i understand your point.

10/07/2005 04:34:00 PM  

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