The world in black and white

Does some of the criticism directed at Obama have to do with race?  Undoubtedly.  Does that mean the people from whom it issues are frothing at the mouth KKK-style racists?  No, obviously not.  Someone please tell David Brooks.  Here he is describing his experience last week at the 9/12 protests:

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I go running several times a week. My favorite route, because it’s so flat, is from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol and back. I was there last Saturday and found myself plodding through tens of thousands of anti-government “tea party” protesters.

They were carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, “End the Fed” placards and signs condemning big government, Barack Obama, socialist health care and various elite institutions.

Then, as I got to where the Smithsonian museums start, I came across another rally, the Black Family Reunion Celebration. Several thousand people had gathered to celebrate African-American culture. I noticed that the mostly white tea party protesters were mingling in with the mostly black family reunion celebrants. The tea party people were buying lunch from the family reunion food stands. They had joined the audience of a rap concert.

Because sociology is more important than fitness, I stopped to watch the interaction. These two groups were from opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum. They’d both been energized by eloquent speakers. Yet I couldn’t discern any tension between them. It was just different groups of people milling about like at any park or sports arena.

Notice that Brooks doesn't give us any reason to suppose that the two groups were from "the opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum."  I'm not even sure what it means to be from the opposite end of the "cultural spectrum" (black vs. white?) now that I think of it.  I find it remarkably odd that he would think of it this way, since it is obvious that the family reunion had nothing to do with the tea party protest–they weren't, after all, counter-protesters, they were just there.

More importantly, however, is the fact that he takes peaceful interaction between a white group of people and a black one to be evidence of the non-existence of racist motivations on the part of some (some some some) of the white people.  Is he expecting that they would treat the black people they meet rudely?

I think the accusations of a racial component to current anti-government feeling has something to do with certain celebrated conservative talkers fomenting fear among whites of racism directed at them–no., it's Obama who is a racist.  It might also have something to do with the fact that the mainstream media asking, every time a black man or woman does something, what Obama thinks of it.  What Obama has to contribute to the Kanye story is beyond me.  I wonder why no one is talking about Obama's take on the crazy child abductors in California.

4 thoughts on “The world in black and white”

  1. Something of a “Pauline Kael” moment: a double helping of Hasty Generalization with a big side dish of confirmation bias.

  2. This article (the one you site, not te one on this page) is a perfect illustration of how racism is transforming in this country.  It’s generally jsut statistical stereotypes coupled with confirmation bias.  In other words, if it’s true for 50% or more of “our kind” then it must be true of nearly all.  If conservatives want some non-white members in their ranks, they maybe should stop assuming that all non-whites are liberals.

  3. Brooks saw teabaggers buying food from black people, therefore the opposition to Obama isn’t racist. Brilliant.

  4. Jimmy Carter should be proud of himself. For a second there he successfully changed the topic of discussion. It is a desperate attempt to deflect from the real issues that still remain unresolved.
    To claim that Obama’s opposition is racist is the same as to claim that 95% of Blacks are racists. Just because some make their decision based on race alone, it does not make the whole group racist.
    David Brooks is creating a new standard in logic: double-dipping. He dips once in the bowl of logical fallacies, but using the same chip(article) he dips it again in the same sauce (hasty generalization).

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