Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Does the Tipping Point Exist?

Short post today.

I'm listening to the drumbeat from the media about the lies of McCain and Palin and trying to get excited.

Like most of y'all, I've been one of those people complaining that if Obama lost to the Disastrous Duo it would be because the mainstream media thoroughly failed the public. Since Johnny Boy unveiled Mooselini at the Republican convention, the media has gone out of its way to avoid calling her a liar despite all the evidence that makes that characterization justified.

Which reminds me, does the mainstream media view the word "liar" the same way white people in general view the word "racist?" So, I guess if you're a lying racist, you just get a total pass in this country? Well that does explain the careers of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond.

Back on topic. The recent pushback by the media against the falsehoods being spread by the McCain campaign about themselves and about Obama has been heartening. Yet, just as I was starting to believe that this change in attitude might result in more people seeing the truth for themselves, I was struck by reality.

Do people even listen to the media anymore?

I mean, we all take in stories, and sometimes we even pay attention. But, when it comes to politics, do regular citizens actually believe that people in the media know what they are talking about? After all, the mainstream media has admitted to being duped on Iraq, being duped by Wall Street and now, duped by McCain. Most people already had very little respect for journalists, and I'm guessing that those three eff-ups didn't help things at all.

More importantly, I read something interesting about decision making the other day. The report said that most people make gut decisions and then find ways to rationalize those decisions later. However, when questioned, those same people state that they considered all the facts and then made an informed decision.

I make that point because when the media actually does their jobs, it's based on the assumption that people will take information and then make good decisions. Yet, it's becoming increasingly clear that is not the case. The simple truth is that no matter how many facts the media hits the public over the head with, most folks have already made up their minds and don't care. In fact, that goes double for folks that vote Republican because they believe that every media company not named Fox News is out to get them.

So, while I was having this delicious fantasy that Palin would be exposed and make McCain look even worse, reality intruded. Now, I'm thinking that no matter what happens, the Duo will remain together, and the Alaskan Assassin could make it to the White House.

There is no tipping point.


Chris said...

how DO white people in general view the word "racist"? as opposed to the not so white?
As to the tipping point, I agree that most people will tune into media coverage that confirms their viewpoint, and hear things through their personal filter... but at some "point" in the last week, I "Blinked" at the whole election issue and decided to cast my vote for Obama, when the time comes. I have even gone so far as to post videos with political content on my blog - something that I would've thought very uncharacteristic of me. Perhaps there is hope.

the uppity negro said...


Oh wow! Apparently as familiar with Malcolm Gladwell per your quotation of the word "blinked."

And I was gonna recommend to you to pick up Malcolm Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point." I think Gladwell would suggest that perhaps the tipping point has not come yet.

Big Man said...


I've written a couple posts about the difficult white folks have in using the word racism or racist. Particularly during the primary campaign this was huge problem. I tried to search the blog to bring you one of the posts, but unfortunately searching my blog for the word "racism" does not filter out too many posts.

Deacon Blue said...

Racism seems to be the -ism/-ist word that my white brothers and sisters have the most difficulty with.

They can throw out elitist, classist and even sexist with various degrees of ease (though they still chafe at the claims), but no white person seems to want to be called a racist even if that person clearly is.

Perhaps if they didn't see it as absolute it wouldn't be so hard. Making decisions based on race, particularly when you are in a position where those decisions can harm a person or make life awkward for them, is racist.

Those could be small decisions, those could be big decisions. But many whites seem to lack understanding that non-whites can call them out on racism without having to hate them or even see them as a particular threat.

I suspect many black folks would get along a lot better with white folks if said white folks admitted, "Yeah, I have some racist notions"...Regardless of whether that person planned on changing those racist notions or not.

I said it another post, but racism is such a continuum...a spectrum. It's a shame that most white people assume it's the damn race version of the "scarlet letter." They assume they are being condemned, when, in fact, it is often merely an attempt to point out misconceptions or ignorance that could be easily spotted and resolved if the perpetrator opened his or her eyes a little wider.

Darth Whitey said...

I, for one, do not have a racist bone in my body. In fact, I don't even notice race. People need to point out that a person is of this or that race in order for me to notice.

Ah, I kid I kid :)

I'm not racist, I'm classist. I don't like being around the downtrodden. I'm only comfortable around people who look like they shower everyday and have a decent income. And I'm sexist too. I prefer women who wear skirts (though that doesn't make me like Palin more than Clinton, not by a long shot!)

In fact, I'd say I'm counter-racist in that I will favor black folks (who fall into my acceptable class category) over non-black folks in terms of how nice I am to them (I'm a prick to white and Asian people but a sweetheart to black people.)

And, if you want white people to declare up front that they have racist notions, then black folks need to admit they hate whitey too ;)

BTW, Big Man, I like your new caption under the blog's name... but I would caution you that the law may not agree with you :)

Deacon Blue said...

Oh, God, no...I for one wouldn't advocate that white folks walk up and say, "Hi, I have some racist notions" by way of introduction. I suspect that might be just as jarring and annoying as the folks who go out of their way to mention their "black friend" or the relative who is non-white or other things they seem to want to do to immediately present themselves as "OK white people."

My concern is that when presented with evidence of racism or racist attitudes, either their own or in society at large, too many of them go on the defensive or try to downplay things instead of saying, "yeah, you're right" or even "Hmmm, I hadn't thought of it in that light."

LOL...I'm just trying to imagine the image of someone walking up to Big Man and saying, "Hello, my name is George and I'm a racist."

Chris said...

@ uppity
I didn't mean to imply that my willingness to care about this election was indicative of the social epidemic reaching critical mass... but it could be. ( I've never met anyone I though was more politically apathetic than myself.)
I haven't read "point" yet, but the synopsis was interesting and "blink" blew me away, I read it in two sittings. If my understanding of the epidemic dynamic is correct there is a good chance that even the hopeful and those that have given up hope, will be surprised at it's advent.

@ deacon
I think the propensity of the extremely White to present themselves as OK is because of an understandable undercurrent of defensiveness. What else can you expect from someone whose history/ancestry contains perpetrators of racial atrocity? I imagine Germans are embarrassed, (but this is just speculation.)
Many people feel shame about the behavior of their family members. If you call me on ANY defect of character, my initial reaction is defensiveness. What I see often is amazed, righteous anger that the confronted person doesn't just fess up. This is naive, and I do it time and again. When I confront my family member or close friend, about an issue where they are obviously wrong, the length of time they need to process it goes up in direct proportion to how emotionally charged the issue in question is. But I still find myself amazed that they don't immediately acknowledge the truth.
You can win an argument... but if you win the argument first you generally don't win the heart. as a society, we just aren't that mature. But if you win the heart first, sometimes you can have both. I don't know how to do this, as far as racism is concerned...

I found angry Angry Asian Man thought provoking...I think of myself as "Angry Poor Man" :)

Big Man said...


I would say "Nice to meet you George." I like when people are upfront.


thanks for some good point of views.

Deacon Blue said...

Big Man, I figured it would be something like that...but I had visions of you responding, "Hi, I'm a Raving Black Lunatic."

The scenarios in my head lately are getting pretty ludicrous. I think I need more sleep.

Darth Whitey said...

White privilege, you say?

hehehe. that's right, he can say that stuff without being labeled racist because he's black. if a white person had written that he'd been run out of town. of the joys of race relations. can't we all just get along? :)

Raving Black Lunatic