Sitting safely on his white ass in Vermont, Benen demanded conflict. We mustn’t give in to the bigots, he cried, like Snoopy flying that plane. By way of contrast, Ahmed Sharif, the man who was stabbed, had apparently favored moving the non-mosque somewhere else. Could it be that Sharif understands something the Benens don’t care about?
For our money, Bloomberg’s reaction was perfectly sensible; so was Patterson’s. It’s Benen’s reaction which jumps off the page. It isn’t Benen whose throat may get slashed if extended conflict leads to further attacks by disturbed people. But even after someone gets stabbed, Benen—safely lodged in Vermont—still can’t seem to picture the thinking behind Patterson’s reaction.
We know that bait can taste really good, but this isn’t World War III. The proposed community center could conceivably do a world of good at its proposed location—or at some other location. It never had to be “at” ground zero, or even two blocks away. What amazes us is the way the Benens are happy to let other people’s throats get slashed, so they can play out identity games in which they pretend that the location of this worthwhile project is a matter of unyielding import.
It isn’t, and it never was. And it isn’t Benen’s life which gets put on the line by his utterly high-minded thinking, after which he waddles to Ben and Jerry’s to break up the afternoon.
It isn’t that Bloomberg’s reaction is wrong. It’s just that people like Benen show no sign of knowing—no sign of caring?—whose lives get put on the line in the process. Truly, it can be amazing to see the way we “liberals” think.If you read the column, you'll get many moments to be proud of Martin Luther King III. Somerby writes about how a talk show host tried to repeatedly bait him and MLK III refused to take the bait and spoke of what his father's work was in a way that provided context and love. (I'm saying "love." Somerby didn't. But MLK was about love. And you could hear it when his son was speaking of him.)
I chose the above for a reason.
I agree with it and have made similar comments but I'm not the only one.
"Roundtable" (Third Estate Sunday Review, June 6, 2010):
Ty: And congrats and thanks to everyone who worked on last week's edition and to Ava, C.I. and Jess who represented and steered while Dona, Jim and I took the weekend off. Last week, Ava moderated "Roundtable" and, I thought and so did all but one e-mail, did a wonderful job of it. The whiner who writes for US Socialist Worker -- and who did not respond to an e-mail from me asking whether or not he or she wanted to be quoted -- felt that Ava was the one being unhelpful and that US Socialist Worker's coverage was not the problem.
Ava: Here's my reply. Thanks for taking time out of your lazy day to write. I'm sure you had nothing better to do. You're not in Arizona, you're not Latino. All your screaming of "racism!" from the comforts of Chicago does is heat up the situation for Latinos in Arizona. I'm not in the mood for it. We are tired of all the Anglos using us as their social experiment. You need to learn to shut up and stop trying to lead us. Despite our percentage in the US already and the predictions for it in the near future, we aren't on staff at Socialist Worker, are we? Just a lot of Anglos and a few token African-Americans. So maybe you should look in the mirror the next time you want to scream racism? Repeating, Latinos in Arizona are the ones who will be hurt by all your theatrics. You make the environment unsettling and potentially dangerous -- when it won't be your ass on the line. My concern is for my Latino brothers and my Latina sisters. You are not my concern, you will never be my concern. I have faith and pride in my Arizona brothers and sisters and know that they will work this out, they will handle it. They do not need a bunch of uppity northern Anglos trying to do leadership by computer.
And let me drop back to that earlier "Roundtable:"
Ava (Con't): I'm going to kick things off with one topic. Arizona's law. The e-mails are coming in constantly more or less saying "Why won't you call those racists in Arizona out?" First of all, C.I. and I have marched in every immigration rights rally we've known of. Those are the big ones and the not so big ones. Our views on this issue are very clear. My feelings are open borders are the best. But I'm also aware if the borders were completely open, the US would be overrun -- any country would be. The people of Arizona are a border state. If you're not a southern border state, maybe it's really not your business to mount a high horse? When Iowa and Wisonsin have the Latino population of Arizona, Texas, California, etc., maybe then they should be allowed to offer 'expertise.' There are adjustments taking place in those states that other states have no idea -- can have no idea -- what it's like. In most cases, Anglos will have no say because it will just be the majority population deciding. It is an adjustment period and all the Anglos at Socialist Worker and all the crap farms need to shut the f**k up. People are not racist just because you say they are. They may have legitimate concerns, they may have laughable concerns but they are their concerns and they will work them out with the Latino populations in their states and neither side needs some uppity Anglos from Chicago tarring one side as racist. It doesn't help, it only feeds hostility, to scream "racist" oever and over. Sharon Smith, for example, we don't need you, we didn't ask for you. My people will get along just fine without you. The Anglos will also get along just fine without you.
Betty: The thing that irritates you the most, Ava, about the coverage from US Socialist Worker or any other outlet?
Ava: The mind reading that everyone must be a racist. I'm sick of it. There are a number of Latinos in Arizona who support that law. They're racist too? No. And I find it insulting and cheap that we're talking about race when Latino is ethnicity. Latino is not a race. I'm sick of this constant need to scream racism instead of ever addressing a problem. I'm sick of it. If we just scream racism then we never have to learn to form arguments and make the case for our side. I'm sick of the lazy minded on the left, they are destroying us as much as Barack is. If we're ever going to be able to take on the right we're going to need to offer something more than, "Nah, nah, you're wrong because you're a racist!" Thanks for asking, Betty. We've mainly kept this dialogue in El Spirito because it's the community newsletter which focuses on Latino issues. Due to the e-mails to this site, I've addressed it here. Ruth and Mike, you two wanted to talk about the Joe Sestak issue.
As you should already know, I'm a big fan of Ava and when she speaks like that, I hear my father. My father, as I've written before, would call C.I. and get C.I. to include something non-Iraq into the snapshot because he felt that our race (Black) was being used and that after the rhetoric and passions moved on, it would be us left holding the bag not our White 'friends' who were so eager to be 'helpful.' And C.I. would do anything for my father (and did) and never shied from taking on the issue. But whether it's my father or Ava or whomever, we are noting that a lot of people sit on their asses from a safe distance and hurl insults that inflame tensions in areas they don't live in.
I was glad Somerby wrote what he wrote. I think it's a message that needs to get out there and can never be stressed enough. My father stressed it to us at least once a week at the dinner table. He still stresses it to his children and he now stresses it to his grandchildren. It's very important.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):