The award for the stupidest essay of the month has to go to Natalie Nichols' "Good Guys, Bad Guys"
in LA City Beat
It starts out discussing how you can't always tell the good guys from the bad guys in Lost
. (If it hadn't seemed to be about Lost
, I probably wouldn't have read it.) It soon segues into how we crave such clarity in fiction, but it can lead us astray in real life. Not much of an insight to begin with--the real problem is that we all suffer from this, but we can usually only see it in others.
Anyway, after the ceremonial condemnation of Bush (no nuance there--good and bad are easy to see), she goes into full Obama-excuse mode, even as she says she's trying to be evenhanded.
Let me reproduce her final two paragraphs, with comments.Like the cartoonish pro wrestlers of the WWE, Obama and Clinton have taken turns playing the hero/villain.
Okay, so we're expecting something evenhanded, at least for the Democrats. Will she be able to pull it off?One day Hillary’s campaign engages in trash talk and cheap shots, the next Barack is taken to task for the way his longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright Jr., has expressed anger over racial inequality in America and this country’s not-always-exemplary behavior around the world.
Nope, she can't. Hillary is just evil while Barack is misunderstood. Look at how dishonestly she characterizes Wright's crackpot racism. She can't even repeat what he says, but simply points to why he's angry and why America deserves anger.Clinton recently asserted she would have left her church if her pastor had implied such things as the U.S. brought 9/11 on itself
This is pretty bad, but it's only one of many various, horrible things he said.as though Obama is somehow responsible for the man’s words.
No one's saying he's responsible for his pastor's words, but he's responsible for how he reacts to those words.Her insinuation echoes more extreme opinions that Obama is a closet hater of whites because he didn’t denounce and reject Wright.
First, her insinuation, it seems to me, is that if your spiritual leader shows himself to be a nutty racist who sees the world through a provably wrong conspiratorial lens, you leave. Second, I don't think many are claiming Obama hates whites, just that, for whatever reason, he stayed happily in a church for twenty years run by someone who did.Meanwhile, Clinton – so clear when it comes to saying what she’d do in a hypothetical situation involving someone else – has hardly disavowed statements by Geraldine Ferraro, who recently resigned from the senator’s campaign after saying that Obama is a presidential front-runner because he’s black.
Once again, we see the absurd comparison between a single--and essentially correct--statement by Ferraro and twenty years of a hateful philosophy from your mentor. And Ferraro did leave the campaign, even though she didn't play anything more than an honorary role in it.Then Ferraro compounded the drama by arguing that racism works in “two different directions” and that Obama’s campaign was “attacking me because I’m white.”
So Nichols is willing to go heavily into what Ferraro said and why it's wrong, but she can hardly be bothered to recount the Reverend Wright's many ugly statements. By the way, I don't agree with Ferraro's second quote here--she was attacked because she said something against Obama and they had an opening to make Hillary look bad; when Obama's friends have said the same thing the Obama camp didn't mind. You'd think this would be an excellent example for Nichols to show the back and forth accusations between the two sides, but she gave up that phantom menace after the first sentence.No doubt both candidates have engaged at times in mudslinging-by-proxy, but I just don’t see how anyone is responsible for someone else’s words or ideas.
Except when you do, which is all the time when it's people you oppose, such as Hillary two sentences ago.What the hell, ordinary citizens say way worse stuff than this every day by the water cooler, in the schoolyard, on talk radio, etc.
Another one of the talking points--other people do it! Well, even if they did, it's not really much of an excuse. But you know what? They don't. You'd have to search far and wide to find someone who speaks such racist bilge as Wright. And doing it proudly in public makes it worse. It also makes the need to deal with it (rather than cheer for it, as much of Wright's flock did) more important.In fact I’d bet that many, if not most, people have friends – perhaps even mentors – who carry opinions and prejudices they don’t agree with, and that might even make them uncomfortable at times.
Yet another talking point. This is not just a friend, but a spiritual leader, and this is not just some stray opinion best left undiscussed, but Wright's basic worldview from which much of his philosophy follows, and which Obama has known about for some time.Should we expect better from our elected leaders?
Sounds like a rhetorical question, but oddly, she's about to answer it in a way that hurts her argument.Yeah, but we also shouldn’t hold them to unrealistic standards, rules that not even a TV good guy (or bad guy?) could live up to.
Ooh, she returned to the first paragraph, good writing.