Hillary Clinton, hire this man!
Someone with such an evident talent for using deceit, rhetorical fog, logical fallacies and rationalizations with such assertiveness and certitude is invaluable to any political candidate, but especially one, like you, whose favorite tactic when caught in misconduct is to flood everyone’s consciousness with excuses, denials, irrelevancies and distractions until all but the most concerned and attentive are likely to give up and say “The hell with it. Nothing is worth listening to this.”
Tommie Christopher is described in online profiles as a liberal commentator, which means that he isn’t a journalist at all. He is a partisan, ideologically slanted advocate. That would be enough for me not to trust him already, but his recent post for Mediaite would cause me not to trust him even if he had just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thus his argument must stand entirely on its inherent validity, rather than the presumed acumen of its author. On that basis, it shouldn’t have been published at all. I would call it link-bait at best.
I wrote about University of Pennsylvania religious studies professor Anthea Butler, who wrote “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award …” when responding to a Daily Beast editor’s tweet containing a link to a Sports Illustrated article on Ben Carson’s defense of flying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events. Christopher’s post is headlined “Ivy League Professor Didn’t Actually Call Ben Carson ‘Coon of the Year’” Of course she did. Who else was there in the story that she was plausibly calling a “coon”? No one.
I think the headline may have been intended as a kind of an employment ad for Lannie Davis’s job as Shameless Clinton Defender When They Are Caught Red-Handed, in case he wakes up one morning, as he might some day, looks in his bathroom mirror, screams “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?”, rips his face off like that guy in “Poltergeist” and jumps out a window. The unspoken challenge from Christopher: “See this ridiculous headline, as crazy as Davis claiming that Hillary did nothing wrong in handling State Department secrets on an insecure private e-mail account? Now watch my spin wizardry, and be amazed!”
Unfortunately, Christopher’s performance doesn’t equal the hype:
“Now, if you want to interpret Professor Butler’s tweet that way, you’re welcome to do so, but to state that interpretation as fact is just plain wrong. In fact, maybe you’re the racist for reading that tweet and assuming that she meant Ben Carson is a “coon.” There’s another much more relevant interpretation to be made…The sentence in Professor Butler’s tweet could have been completed in any number of ways, including “If only there was a ‘coon of the year’ award…Ben Carson could tell NASCAR to hold the ceremony, as long as it’s a majority of people in the area who want to give out the award, and it was on private property.” Too many characters, but you get the idea.”
Why yes, Tommy, the idea is that you have stretched plausibility to the breaking point in defense of a self-evident racist. It you really think that this is the most relevant interpretation, despite the fact that nobody not desperately spinning to avoid the obvious conclusion that the professor is a racist hypocrite, would assume that meaning even after electroshock treatment, then you have unique brain wiring, to say the least. But it is true, you can complete that and any sentence a number of ways, but Occam’s Razor dictates that the most obvious way—in this case, “If there was a coon of the year award, Ben Carson would win it”—is how it should be interpreted, indeed exactly what Butler meant, and how Tommie Christopher understood it too, until he decided to test his spinning skills by claiming otherwise.
It gets worse. Sure enough, Christopher trots out the old “blacks can call black “niggers” and that’s OK but whites just don’t understand ” argument:
“These definitions [of “coon”] are all perfectly accurate as it relates to white people using the word, but among black people, it has a completely different, much more complex meaning. When a white person calls someone a “coon,” they are slurring all black people, but within the black community, the term is not a racial slur, and it’s not interchangeable with the multi-purpose n-word. It is a provocative (and yes, offensive) social and/or political critique that covers a wide range of behaviors.”
To justify this nonsense (Do blacks commonly call non-blacks “coons”? If not, then this admittedly “offensive” term applied based on skin color is by definition a racist slur), Christopher defers to an obscure website called “Coonwatch” with a confusing passage. Is there any evidence that the professor is a follower of Coonwatch? Did she have any reason to think the SI editor she tweeted to was aware of this virtually unknown definition of “coon”? Let’s give Christopher the benefit of tremendous doubt, and agree that coon, in some contexts, may not be a racial slur. Well, a responsible college professor had better be able to make that rarefied context clear as a summer stream, or be prepared to accept the consequences–consequences that no white professor could possibly avoid. She is an academic who teaches all races: the “we have different meaning for words than you white folks” excuse is lazy, unfair and dishonest. It is also called “a failure to communicate,” and if a school’s professors can’t communicate, then they shouldn’t be professors.
Worse yet is this, at the end of Christopher’s post:
“This effort by the conservative media is nothing if not an attempt to police black language, a practice they supposedly reject with every fiber of their being.”
Police black language? How about insisting that blacks and whites be held to the same standards of civility and respect, not to mention articulateness, clarity and accountability? What about objecting to universities employing professors who use racial slurs and who employ bias by skin color, but only when such professors are black? Objecting to political correctness has never extended to defending the use of outright racist, misogynist, ethnic or homophobic slurs in unambiguous efforts to diminish human beings. When have conservative commentators ever defended the right of anyone to use the words “nigger,” “coon,” “cunt,” “twat,” “kike,” “retard,” “wetback,” “chink,” “slope,” “gook” or “Jap” without condemnation?
Christopher’s smug dishonesty is far more offensive that the professor’s tweet.
But look out Lanny!