Currently viewing the tag: "political correctness"

A libertarian panel hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.

-Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino

-Michelle Montalvo: Perpetual intern, sci-fi enthusiast; @michelle7291

-Cory Massimino: Student, writer for DL Magazine, Students for Liberty Blog, Center for a Stateless Society; @CoryMassimino

-David Lowenthal: blogger for The Forgotten Beard; @davidlowenthal1

Our cranky, liberty-loving panel discussed the Supreme Court ruling on cell phone warrants, the state of the Fourth Amendment, immigration and the border, and Gary Oldman, political correctness and libertarian celebrities. Takeaway question: does Pat Buchanan got to Mexican restaurants?

Last week, I was so ready to write a thoughtful, invariably inside libertarian baseball response to Jeffrey Tucker’s piece in the The Freeman. Or I was going to write about horrible police brutality for the various outlets who enjoy that sort of thing. But then my Montana-dwelling aunt called, and we discussed the imminent spring, and the greatness of the Coen Brothers — with me evangelizing about Ralph Stanley, and both of us agreeing that the Greenwich Village-style of folk was not the platonic ideal, being a little too earnest English balladish, and not high and lonesome enough.

And then of course politics faded from my soul, as it does. I subscribe to the Tucker and the Radley Balko school of politics (and, really, most of the Reason writers agree) which says that it is a vile thing, and the victory of libertarianism would mean an ability to ignore politics without feeling as if you were betraying your imprisoned and oppressed fellow man. I just wish I knew how to channel a career into dissecting how Ralph Stanley sounds, as opposed to how endlessly sick the prison state makes me.

I had a lovely birthday on the 8th. I had lovely people come to visit me and gather around. But before I went to my own party, my mom and I went to a church down in Pittsburgh that was doing their monthly shapenote singing sing.

Shapenote singing was a 19th century method of teaching folks who couldn’t read music how to do four-part harmony. There are some great modern and older recordings of it on the internet — One of my favorites, from the famous Harry Smith anthology of folk music, is below:

At its best, shapenote singing has am unpolished eerie quality that undermines and delightfully clashes with its stodgier sort of choral aspects. Instead of just beauty, it has roughness and resonance. Like the voice of Ralph Stanley (who grew up in a Primitive Baptist Church, which bar instruments) sometimes does, the strongest shapenote singers have this quality that can only remind me of bagpipes. It just has this huuuugh gut thing.

Mom, who used to play the saxophone and plays piano and guitar, knew enough music to be baffled. I didn’t know enough to know where to begin or how to follow, plus read, plus hear other people, plus hear myself.

In our post-O Brother Where Art Thou?, post-Mumford and Sons world, I was not surprised that the demographics of the singers were middle age nearing old age and younger, scruffier types. I was not the only singer with a pierced nose, for Christ’s sake.

There was someone who swore, and people who seemed devout Christians. The most powerful, ceiling plaster-endangering singer was a middle aged woman with long brown hair who came from God Only Knows, Alabama. She was all down home encouragement and June Carter sass.

Here’s a more recent kind of shapenote singing — less weird and ancient, more just loud:

Though the traditional text, The Sacred Harp, contains mostly songs about Jesus, and other folk I don’t know well, shapenote singing is so perfectly American and strange, and I think it’s wonderful. It is not mine, but I like to borrow it.

My birthday party had a cacophony of people I love very much talking too loudly in too small a space. It was fun, but the diminishing returns of socializing were lurking at its loudest points.

However, S.T. and J.K., musical friends from Richmond and Baltimore respectively, decided to crash and give me musical celebration. When they play together, they are called the Dirty Mallards. I drank my first moonshine in their presence one summer day in 107 degree Richmond weather. From them I learned that “Tommy” without clarification means Tommy Jarrell, the great North Carolina fiddler.

S.T. and J.K. are more libertarian than not. J.K. is more personally conservative, but he has recently attempted to go off the grid, internet-wise, and I have to assume the National Security Agency is a big reason. When I first met S.T. he seemed to have stepped out of the pages of Tony Horwitz’ Confederates in the Attic, for all that implies about his views. And that’s not all wrong, but it’s not everything about him. He’s a student of history — and some of his conclusions I might disagree on — but he’s incredibly well-read, as well a an instinctual, leave me alone libertarian. They are both good people who provided with with the best birthday present since my cousin T. got Jello Biafra to insult capitalism just for me.

Now, my one association with Jeff Tucker is that he is endlessly optimistic about the non-state. Culture, markets, music, fast food, all of these do and will continue to bring freedom and choice to people. All of this is beautiful and chaotic instead of planned from above.

So when Tucker uses his “brutalist vs. humanitarian” libertarian metaphor in The Freeman essay, he almost pulls it off. The brutalists stripped down architecture to its cold, practical essence. Brutalist libertarians do the same with their liberty. They say, I have my freedom to be as awful as possible, you have yours, we need not encourage social goodness and kindness and need not discourage racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. within libertarianism.  If it ain’t the state, who cares! Is that really what he thinks will happen in Libertopia? Is that what he thinks will happen without an implied litmus test? Does he think that defending pure liberty is implicitly saying we desire to live in small, mean tribal societies? If Tucker truly believes most, or even a lot of people would pick that, he is not the optimist I thought he was.

Though Tucker does not say as much, and his version of this question is better than any of the ones I have seen recently, the artificially of the two camps still gives me a moment’s pause. Are libertarian J.K. and S.T. and their politically incorrect jokes humanitarian or brutalist? How about my conservative-leaning libertarian father? My an-cap atheist friend who professes to hate feminism, who I recently saw defend the Duke porn star from another Facebook commenter who was calling her trash? My Christian an-cap friend with whom I disagree about gender roles and religion, and who has argued with me about that long into the morning?

Even in Tucker’s Libertopia, I would not surround myself only with the angels of tolerance who are always saying just the right things. So, I certainly don’t want to discount flawed creatures before we get to that free land. We live now in a world in which minorities of ALL stripes are put upon by the state: Religious weirdos, the peaceful, bunker-dwelling racists, the cultists, or for fuck’s sake, just the people who maybe don’t want to use college liberal terms to filter the world. I want them all in my tent as well. I want them if only because more people than any libertarian would wish think they are right-wingers — inherently suspicious, likely bad, for wanting less or no government at all.

Libertarianism and friendships both have a sort of Miller Test. Or, rather you “know it when you see it” — know the good people you want in your life, or in your fight for freedom. I can’t tell you who they are for you, and you can’t tell me either.

I think I know good people who are are not PC and who are also a net gain for liberty in the world. This is not to say that we can’t say, as individual libertarians, or as groups, say we prefer tolerance of gay people to not tolerance. This is only to say that the divisions between libertarians, like anywhere else, are rarely as purely simple as paleo vs. cosmo, conservative vs. liberal, or humanitarian vs. brutalist.  Tucker is, again, incredibly deft and fair in his piece. He doesn’t seem to be trying to kick out anyone at all. But the two camps idea still didn’t seem real enough to justify it as an exercise. There is a danger in making people, even just libertarians, seem that A) or B).

I wanted to write a political response to Tucker’s piece. I was distracted by the pleasures of voluntary culture, and life, and music instead. Hopefully that’s still the point.

espn-native-american-expert-rick-reilly-washington-redskinsJust call him Rick Reilly, Indian whisperer.

As much as I hate the PC crowd, there are lines. Lines that white 11-time sportswriters of the year from ESPN probably shouldn’t cross. It’s not that I’m against anyone opining on any subject. But if you’re going to write about why the Redskins shouldn’t change their name it’s probably best if your star witness isn’t your part American Indian father-in-law.

I guess this is where I’m supposed to fall in line and do what every other American sports writer is doing. I’m supposed to swear I won’t ever write the words “Washington Redskins” anymore because it’s racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. Maybe it is.

I just don’t quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Mont. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.

Reilly, whose wife’s father speaks for all Native Americans, doesn’t care, so you’re off the hook, America.

Who cares if the dictionary defines Redskin as dated and offensive, who cares if the team was named by one of the most notorious racists in the history of professional sports. Who cares if Reilly himself was one of the first sportswriters to come out against professional sports teams who caricatured Native Americans, before he was against it.

Who cares that the Oneida Indian Nation is actively protesting the name?

Of course Reilly has the right to express his opinion on the matter. This is America, (and his opinion isn’t any stupider than that of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder). But as Americans who possess brains, we have the right to berate the hell out of Reilly for doing so. And we Americans have spoken. Our response? Reilly is an idiot. Chris Greenberg from Huffington Post, Bobby Big Wheel of Kissing Suzy Kolber, Dave Zirin of The Nation, and Tim Marchman of Deadspin are just a few of the many sportswriters piling on Reilly for his over-generalized, anecdotal defense of the name “Redskins.”

As much as it pains me to agree with The Nation or Huffington Post, they’re right. Once one of the most respected sportswriters in the country, Rick Reilly’s fall from grace since leaving Sports Illustrated is well documented. But his weak defense of “Redskins” is so monstrously out of touch and misbegotten that it’s more likely that it will have the opposite effect as intended and will drive people over to the other side of the debate. Really, Reilly couldn’t have penned a better article for those arguing for a name change. A middle-aged white man, using anecdotal evidence derived from relatives and some high-school employees, yeah, that’s going to change a lot of people’s minds.

Reilly takes the few Native Americans that he spoke to across the country and uses that as proof they don’t care about the name. Hell they’re even proud of it.

“I’ve talked to our students, our parents and our community about this and nobody finds any offense at all in it,” says Tim Ames, the superintendent of Wellpinit schools. “‘Redskins’ is not an insult to our kids. ‘Wagon burners’ is an insult. ‘Prairie n—–s’ is an insult. Those are very upsetting to our kids. But ‘Redskins’ is an honorable name we wear with pride. … In fact, I’d like to see somebody come up here and try to change it.” […]

“We have two great tribes here,” says Kingston assistant school superintendent Ron Whipkey, “the Chicasaw and the Choctaw. And not one member of those tribes has ever come to me or our school with a complaint. It is a prideful thing to them.” […]

“It’s a name that honors the people,” says Kingston English teacher Brett Hayes, who is Choctaw. “The word ‘Oklahoma’ itself is Choctaw for ‘red people.’ The students here don’t want it changed. To them, it seems like it’s just people who have no connection with the Native American culture, people out there trying to draw attention to themselves. […]

“My kids are really afraid we’re going to lose the Redskin name. They say to me, ‘They’re not going to take it from us, are they, Dad?'”

Nice try, Reilly, but what you’ve forgotten to mention in your strawman argument is that no one is trying to scrub the moniker “Redskins” from all America’s sports teams — just the one that has no affiliation with Native Americans.

Reilly is unmoved even by his fellow ESPN employees are jumping on the hate wagon.

Edmundo Macedo, vice president of ESPN’s Stats & Information group, told ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte that the term Redskins is abhorrent. “We would not accept anything similar as a team nickname if it were associated with any other ethnicity or any other race,” Macedo said.

Oh, yes, we would.

In fact, ESPN and many other media companies cover the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves without a single searing search of their social conscience.

Doesn’t matter. The 81-year-old Washington Redskins name is falling, and everybody better get out of the way. For the majority of Native Americans who don’t care, we’ll care for them. For the Native Americans who haven’t asked for help, we’re glad to give it to them.

Trust us. We know what’s best. We’ll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again.

Kind of like a reservation.

A lesser property than Reilly would have been fired on the spot for that last line. But Reilly is still gainfully employed (for now).

As far as the other teams mentioned by Reilly are concerned, Indians is not considered a slur, neither is Braves. Notre Dame Fighting Irish could be construed as an insult but as Joe Flood at Buzzfeed notes, “the key difference between Notre Dame and the Washington Redskins: Notre Dame is a Catholic, largely Irish institution. ‘Fighting Irish’ is their term to use.” Just like “Redskins” is okay for Native American high schools that want to use it.

It’s safe to think that Reilly wouldn’t have been so bold in talking about a larger, more powerful minority group. If he had been talking about African-Americans would he have had the gumption to write “plantation?”  No, because Jesse Jackson would have been on him before he finished typing the sentence. And therein lies the crux of the problem. Since Native Americans only make up 0.6% of the population of the United States, they don’t have the power to make their voices heard over the NFL noise machine.

Would Reilly be okay with a sports team from Cape Town being named after an ethnic slur for black people? How about a team from Berlin being named the “kikes?” Would Reilly substitute “reservation” for concentration camp? Of course not. That would be unbelievably racist and insensitive to the genocide that took place in the 1930s and ’40s. But in Reilly’s world the two are different. Native Americans were murdered and forced out of their lands back in the 1700 and 1800s and Reilly, like most Americans, develops convenient amnesia about that genocide. Moreover, the city where the proclamations and laws permitting genocide against Native Americans originated decided to “honor” them by naming its sports team after them. If I were Native American, I’d be as upset about being associated with Washington D.C. as I was the name “Redskins.”