". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dear Working Man

I have been having a rather interesting (?) discussion with a reader on my "Why We Homeschool" post a few entries back. My last reply was too long to be accepted in the comment field, so I am going to post it here. If you haven't read the post in question or followed the comment thread, you will probably need to back up and do so in order to understand this post. Feel free to skip it, though. I know my readers have busy lives, and this is mostly for Working Man.

Before I post my comment, though, I do have to say that I find it interesting that someone that I don't know in any way (at least I don't think I do) would invest so much time in discussing politics with me. I am not any sort of political guru. I am not a pundit. I don't have hundreds of people reading my blog on a daily basis to see what latest brilliance I am going to emit. I am just a homeschool mommy and self-employed musician that keeps a blog as a personal outlet and means of communicating with family and friends. Most of the people that read and comment here are either people I know or people that I have come to know as a result of sharing some common ground (chess, homeschooling, Lutheranism, etc.). I don't know how "Working Man," the commenter to whom my response below is addressed, discovered my blog or why he cares what I think. The blogs that I take time to comment on are the blogs of people I know, either in real life or in cyberspace. (I read some other, national blogs, but I don't comment on them, since no one, either the writer or the other readers, would know who I am or have any interest in what I might have to say.) The online political discussions/debates I have had have thus been with people that, again, I know in some capacity. I may know them in cyberspace only, but I don't consider them anonymous because I know something about them, or I know people they know, or we are on the same email list, or belong to the same denomination, or SOMETHING. And because there is that connection and common ground I care what they think and suppose that maybe they feel the same about me, and we can have some meaningful, enlightening discussions. But I find myself a bit perplexed at why an anonymous reader with whom I have nothing in common (of which I am aware) is spending so much time arguing with me, someone he doesn't even know.

Anyway, here, for what it's worth, is my final comment to Working Man. Working Man's words are in quotation marks.

"Your right, the number has changed. I see that as truthfullnes on his part. If the number he was given to begin with was 45 million, and now he has learned it's more like 30 million . . . "

So, Working Man, you suggest that perhaps the number "he was given" was wrong and that now "he has learned" otherwise. He has been throwing the 46 million number around for at least a year. He's trying to take over 1/6th of our country's economy. He is the President of the U.S. He is responsible for the numbers he puts out there and uses as a basis for remaking our health system. So I guess best construction is that he's too incompetent to do that. But I don't think he's that incompetent. That leaves us with dishonest.

"As for Rush and his statements. Sexist; He said when Bill Clinton went To North Korea to bring back those two reporters. Where is HillarY Is North Korea too important for the girl."

I don't get your point here, Working Man. Are you saying it was sexist for Rush to call Hillary a girl? Last time I looked, that's what she was. Or that it was sexist for him to question why Obama sent Bill to North Korea and not Hillary? Seems like a fair question to me. I don't see why either of those things suggest sexism. Rush is definitely anti-feminist. I guess in your mind that makes him a sexist. But that is a position I reject. To embrace traditional male/female roles and accept that there are differences between the sexes does not make one a sexist. Furthermore, I don't see how someone who has supported any number of female politicians can be called sexist. When Palin was brought on as McCain's VP candidate Rush went from being totally down on the GOP ticket to supporting it. He supported it because of the WOMAN on the ticket, not the man. That is not the mark of a sexist. Of course, you will probably discount that example because it's Sarah Palin, and in your mind and the mind of many liberals she doesn't count because she embraces traditional values, and so it's not politically correct to support her.

On the issue of Hillary, anyone who has listened to Rush for any period of time knows that while he is not anti-woman, he is definitely anti-Hillary, and yes, he has gotten much mileage out of making fun of her over the years. But that's because she's Hillary Clinton, married to Bill Clinton, not because she's a woman.

The quotes you provide on the topics of slavery and James Earl Ray are disputed, and WikiQuote acknowledges them to be so. There is no evidence that he ever said either one. The only source for both of them is a book by Jack Huberman in which he did not provide air dates or source material for the quotations. So let's not waste our time on those.

"Take the bone out of your nose and call me back."

I'm not sure I even get this one. But I looked it up and found that it's over 30 years old. He said this back in the 70s when he wasn't even known as Rush Limbaugh but was doing a top 40 show as "Jeff Christie" on Pittsburgh radio. WikiQuotes says he has expressed regret about it. Can we let that one go and deal in the here and now please? Or maybe in the last 10 years, at least? It seems a bit of a stretch to make statements about a man's character today based on a 30+ year old remark.

"I left out the one about Donavan Mcnabb the Eagles Quarterback."

Oh, let's not leave that one out. For anyone who doesn't know that story, here is a summary:


I don't accept that acknowledging that the NFL would consider it to be a positive to have a black quarterback do well to be a racist remark. And I don't accept that someone who would repeatedly ask Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell to guest host for him is a racist.

"Homophobic; He made a joke about Barney Frank that was disgusting, of course he only made it because he was gay."

I am not familiar with the joke, so I can't comment. Perhaps it is a joke that I would object to based on its crudeness. I don't care for crude humor, and sometimes Rush has said some outrageous things, but crudeness and outrageousness do not equate to sexism and racism. And if your argument is that saying anything that could be seen as critical of homosexuality is homophobic, then we may as well give up the conversation now, Working Man. Because I do believe that the practice of homosexuality is a sin. But that doesn't make me homophobic. I don't hate gay people. I don't think they should be made to sit on the back of the bus or drink from their own water fountains. I don't think they're less human than anyone else. But I do think homosexuality is a sin, just like I think a whole bunch of other things are a sin. So if you're going to call me homophobic based on that I guess you also have to call me fornication-phobic, and adultery-phobic, and liar-phobic, and anger-phobic, and profanity-phobic, and whatever else you want to add to the list. Basically, I guess I'm sin-phobic. Now to be clear, that doesn't mean I'm not a sinner, too. I'm a sinner through and through. So I guess I'm also self-phobic.

"If I or anyone makes a derogatory joke about lets say confessional Lutherans would you consider that humor?"

That's a false analogy, Working Man. It is not a sin to be a confessional Lutheran. At least I don't think it is. Readers? And for the record, I have heard a lot of great jokes about confessional Lutherans! And I have enjoyed them!

"I don't care who makes any of these statement right, left, or moderate they are still unacceptable."

That we can agree on. But I'm afraid we disagree on what is considered to be an acceptable/unacceptable statement.

"Lies, to create a false or misleading impression. I think death panels or funding illegal immigrants qualifies as lies"

I disagree. I think both of those phrases peel away all the pc, pretty rhetoric and get to the heart of both matters.

"Finally if Jesus was not sent to judge the world but save it. why do you and so many like you feel that they can judge."

You have it wrong, Working Man. Jesus is God, and God is both Judge and Saviour, both Law and Gospel. He is the only one that can condemn, and He is the only one that can save. To identify right and wrong, truth and lies, good and evil, is not the same thing as judging. Naming is just that--naming. In fact, naming is one of the jobs God gave Adam to do. But the judging (and saving) are left to God.

Working Man, I think you and I have exhausted this discussion. I would kindly ask you to now let it be. This all grew out of an offhand remark on what I thought was a homeschooling post on my personal blog. The debate has been interesting. But I don't really see what there is to be gained by you and I continuing it. I'm getting ready to head into a busy week, and I'm sure you are, too, and I don't know that either of us or my readers have anything to gain from our continued sparring. Our world views and foundational beliefs are too different. What say we give it a rest?

God bless.


Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PMagness said...

Excellent point about Adam and his vocation of naming things.

No wonder you have the Superior Scribbler Award.

Chemnitz would be proud!

Barb the Evil Genius said...

The only thing that I could add is about the girl thing. My super-feminist professor in college was adamant that a female under 18 was a girl; over 18, she was a *woman*. I think they see the word "girl" as derogatory. Eh.

Working man said...


I will respect your wishes, and will not comment on any of your future posts. If I caused you any distress, I am truly sorry.

Cheryl said...

Thank you, Working Man. It's not that you hae caused me distress, but that I just didn't see the point and started wondering why I even found myself going down this road with you. There are too many other things that I should be giving my attention to right now that are so very much more important than trying to change your mind about Rush Limbaugh (or whatever).

I do wish you well and very much appreciate this comment from you.

Casual Observer said...

I haven't looked at the history of this thread so do excuse me if this comes out as a tire re-tread of already explored issues, but I think there is one thing worth saying.

That Rush Limbaugh employs black guest hosts from time to time doesn't automatically make him "not racist."
As for the comment itself, I think many people were offended simply because it was SO widely off base and outside the realm of reasonable analysis to ANYONE that had seen Donovan McNabb PLAY.
Given the history of black quarterbacks, of COURSE the NFL would want to see one do well- especially a multi-faceted threat like McNabb. HOWEVER, a lot of people were hurt that Rush Limbaugh seemed to not give McNabb his due.

(I should note that I believe some of the criticism was directed towards ESPN, who was experimenting by adding interesting non-sports personalities to sports commentary shows. Rush is no football expert.)

Rush Limbaugh very often engages in diatribes against groups including women and other minorities that many consider "provocative." Very often they're simply (and needlessly) mean spirited. I think many people see in that comfort, willingness, and propensity to lash out at certain groups a certain arrogance and sense of superiority that is hurtful coming from an older white conservative male.

I guess my point is, Rush seems to delight in making headlines for statements that risk him being called racist, or sexist. It's his trade and he seems to enjoy it. That's the business. But unfortunately for non-regular listeners to his program that's the lens through which they experience him- as a provocateur who offers no real solutions.

Thanks to centuries of struggle we don't have overt segregation and slavery operating in full force in the United States. Still there are some things that legislation and wars can't solve- among them an uneasiness that develops when the loudest conservative voices demonstrate a comfortable unwillingness to engage in civil discourse regarding matters or figures that affect them.
I guess being a minority in America is still kind of like being the new poodle at the pound. Sure all the dogs already there are supposedly tame, but there's that one BIG dog that's always BARKING at you- never comes over to just say hi, or how're you doing...just keeps barking.

I hope some of this made sense.

PMagness said...

Casual Observer -

No, you don't make sense.

"However, a lot of people were hurt that Rush Limbaugh seemed not to give Donovan McNabb his due"

Exactly who are these people? How were they hurt? If they exist, I think they need serious mental help.

And, btw, Rush is very knowledgable about football. That's common knowledge by anyone in the NFL culture.

Try listening to Rush for a few weeks and then get back to us.

And, as far as your barking dog analogy goes, you've got it totally wrong. Being white in America means having dogs bark at you anytime you say or write anything that someone can possibly put the worst construction on in regards to racial matters.

I'm glad Rush realizes that these dogs really have no bite. We need more Americans like Rush who aren't afraid of their whining and sniping.

Cheryl said...

I really had not intended to comment on this topic again. I asked Working Man to cease and desist and he kindly did. So I feel like I am sort of betraying him by commenting again. However . . .

For you, Casual Observer, to speak of "an uneasiness that develops when the loudest conservative voices demonstrate a comfortable unwillingness to engage in civil discourse regarding matters or figures that affect them" when several vocal liberals are accusing opponents of Mr. Obama's agenda of racism simply because they disagree with them or have voiced their frustration about his leadership is truly ironic. Who is making it hard to have a civil discourse? The people who are discussing the merits of the health reform proposal, or the people who are hiding behind charges of racism? I am not defending Joe Wilson's shout-out during the President's speech. But he didn't use a racial epithet or other belittling phrase. His frustration got the better of him and he spoke out of turn to express that frustration. He should have saved the comment for another time. He has apologized for not doing so. But to now hear prominent Democrats turning this into a racial issue makes them seem more like the barking dogs to me than Rush. All Rush does is talk to his audience. He doesn't go on a bunch of TV shows. He rarely gives interivews. All he does is talk to those who tune him in on the radio. It is the MAINSTREAM MEDIA who are obsessed with HIM, who persist time and time again in latching on to comments (which are often meant satirically or humorously) taken out of context. The people who do that and then foist it on the general public as somehow being newsworthy are the barking dogs, in my opinion. You say the problem is that "non-regular listeners to his program" experience him through a "lens" which shows him to be "a provocateur who offers no real solutions." I rest my case. The people who misunderstand him are not really listening to him. They are experiencing him through the cracked, cloudy, distorted lens of the mainstream media.

Finally, CO, you say that the fact that Rush "employs black guest hosts from time to time doesn't automatically make him 'not racist.'" Okay, I can grant you that. But by the same token a few comments taken out of context do not make him racist. His call screener is black, for Pete's sake. He has had many black guests on his show and he has many black friends, particularly in politics and the NFL. A racist is someone who cannot see past another person's skin--who makes stereotypical judgements based on race and who refuses to appreciate people on an invidivual basis. A racist is someone who looks down on an entire race or group and considers them to be less human. I see nothing in Rush's life--in his actions and behavior--that indicate racism.

It is not racist to criticize a black person. It is not sexist to criticize a woman. It is not racist to acknowledge that there is such a thing as reverse discrimation. It is not racist/sexist to acknowledge that we have a problem with being hypersensitive and politically correct on racial/gender issues.

Casual Observer said...

I think you guys are right on a lot of points. And BTW, I DO listen to Rush from time to time (though rarely the whole program and I'm not a regular listener), as does my dad.

When I speak of people being hurt by actions like Rush-McNabb and Wilson-Obama, I'm talking about black people.

I'm not a fan of people tossing around the words racist and racism-simply because they're unclear. They conjure up images of men in hoods, water fountains and lynchings and that just isn't relevant to contemporary times.

But these words and suspicions often crop up when folks feel that despite reaching high levels of success against long odds, it's okay to casually minimize black individuals' achievements, or outlandishly call into question their success or legitimacy*.

No one achieves success without leapfrogging some doubters, but on the issue of black-running-quarterbacks it was especially relevant. The NFL has been HEAVILY integrated at non QB positions for the longest, but questions about whether black quarterbacks could be trusted to helm the offense, or whether they should be allowed to use that "athleticism" have lingered for decades. Still, to suggest that Donovan's considerable success was due in large part to factors beyond his control (defense, the NFL rooting him on) conflicted directly with his stats and the Eagles' success as a team.

The same complexities enter into the Joe Wilson incident. A lot of people point to birthers, school speech fears, allegations of Marxism, etc. and see that same pattern of "legitimacy questioning." But if one puts that aside, I'd say consider this.

Where the President has been involved in issues that highlight cultural distrust or friction, by and large he's taken the time to explain himself thoroughly and expansively- (ex. "Speech on Race" in Philadelphia). When he hasn't, he's acted magnanimously, going far beyond what's expected of a president (PROMPT personal phone call to Officer Crowley, beer summit). I think people respect that, even when they disagree with policies or with his initial statements or actions.

Now place Rep. Wilson's actions in that arena. Many people feel there are very similar themes as far as legitimacy questioning is concerned. Rep. Wilson's response by contrast was sort of...weak. He stuck defiantly to doing the bare minimum despite being breaching the rules of a dignified forum when it was SO EASY to take that extra step- apologizing to the House. That the only person he apologized to was the President's (white) Chief of Staff doesn't help either.

None of this qualifies me to know what's in his heart. BUT as a virtually anonymous legislator, we judge him first- initially on his actions. While his words say "let's focus on the policies," by willfully(?) ignoring the discussion over how his actions were perceived, (and taking no steps to combat that) he contributes to the distraction.

No one blames Joe Wilson or Rush Limbaugh for the world that existed when they were born, but on a human level, we're all expected to hop in and take a look at how things feel from the other guys shoes- and respond to that. To take into account the context of our words and actions. In situations where there's an unequal balance of power, or potential for misunderstanding, that's especially reassuring. That's true when you're a parent dealing with a kid, a boss dealing with an employee, military- civilian, a teacher with an angry parent, a visitor in a foreign land or a speaker in a large and heterogeneous forum.

I think what it comes down to is showing an unquestionably appropriate level of remorse, respect and responsibility and as far as those two episodes were concerned, the parties involved left something to be desired.