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David Gregory, white privileged male and Meet the Press host, scrunched up his face, wrestling with this week's racism news, and, gosh darnit, he simply had to weigh in: "It's such outlier behavior," he declared. It's "just so beyond the pale."

Two other white privileged males at the table nodded solemnly.

Rich Lowry, who is the editor of something called The National Review, reflected on the recent unfortunate statements of another privileged white male who happens to own a professional basketball team. "He is a real outlier, you know?" Lowry stated with certainty.  "He's in no way characteristic of NBA owners."

Next came an expert I'd never seen before, a bloated fellow by the name of Mallory Factor. In addition to being a privileged white male, he teaches at a military college in South Carolina and authored a book called Big Tent: The Story of the Conservative Revolution. Mr Factor was responding to the only non-white-privileged-male on the panel, Neera Tanden, who had been arguing that the latest episodes of racism in the news provided more evidence that the U.S. is not yet a race-neutral nation, and, therefore, affirmative action is still a useful tool.

"Neera, these are outliers," insisted Mr Factor. "And these outliers are bad. They're doing bad things. They're saying bad things." Mr Factor went on to describe what really bothers him: The poor kid "who happens to be white, and we push him aside for somebody who's had more opportunities because he's black or Hispanic. That's wrong!"

I live in the most liberal city in a big red state. Because I am a white privileged male I am frequently exposed to these sorts of "outliers." In fact, I meet these people with such regularity that I simply do not believe Mr Factor or Mr Lowry believe their own statements. (Mr Gregory, I won't comment on. I just can't guess how often he gets out of the house. Perhaps he is a naïf.)

Just a few weeks ago I was participating in some ordinary urinal chit-chat in the bathroom of the professional office building where I work as a contractor. The man beside me -- white and privileged -- made a sort of joke about how the Confederacy should have won the Civil War. He is an accountant -- bright and educated -- so I assumed his comment was merely a reflection of his cultural affinity with the South. I said, "Yeah, then we could still have slavery!" He scrunched up his face, philosophically: "Actually," he said, "there's a lot of evidence that blacks were better off when they were slaves than they are now."

Again, this is a very personable, educated, ordinary white man who holds these views.

I was playing golf at my local muni last week. My playing partner, who I had just met, began grousing about the African-American twosome in front of us, prodding me to strike my ball before they had cleared out of the fairway. "I hope you hit them!" he said, explaining that he had played with them before, and that they were assholes. "God I hate those niggers," he said, shaking his head.

You witness this kind of behavior often if you are a white privileged male living in the South. Whether or not it is accompanied by the N-word, there are many, many people around here just itching to share such feelings. Commonly, they begin with the hackneyed phrase, "I have nothing against blacks, but..." and then they offer a mild caveat, something along the lines of, "It's just certain ones -- the one's who never learned how to act right." And, almost without fail, they take a quick look at your face to determine if they're in safe company.

My golfing partner last week saw my jaw drop at his statement. He was a little more countrified -- and a little older -- than the accountant from work. He apologized immediately, but he looked like he was in pain. "I'm sorry, I can't help the way I was raised," he said mournfully, as if he knew the world was changing, and he was getting left behind.

Yes, the world is changing. But I guaran-goddamn-tee it, the people resisting this change are not outliers. I meet them all the time, right in the middle of the most liberal city in the state.

(Here's the Meet the Press transcript.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  You Can Tell Blacks and Hispanic Have Had Such (5+ / 0-)

    huge advantages because they're in school and have jobs.

    That' is so-o-o-o unnatural.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:47:44 AM PDT

  •  I work in a shipping hub. Working class? Oh, yes. (10+ / 0-)

    But about half the employees are black, including many supervisors.

    So, yesterday I was talking to a 25 year-old black guy, joking around, and racism came up. I told him that as a 64 year old working class white guy, it would be unsurprising if I was a racist. My parents were, my stepfather was incensed when black people started showing up on television programs! And my older brother? He makes them all sound like they're singing "Kumbaya" all day.

    The young man said he had friends whose parents were racist, but he cut them some slack, because they were raised that way. I told him that I was raised that way too, and I don't cut myself any slack, even though I have to fight against that conditioning regularly. We don't choose how we're raised, but we can choose how we behave.

  •  I think the "outlier" (6+ / 0-)

    thing is what is infuriating me the most. I hear the same shit day after day from "not racists but" and to think this isn't a pervasive attitude is simply naive at best or wilful ignorance.

    ~War is Peace~Freedom is Slavery~Ignorance is Strength~ George Orwell "1984"

    by Kristina40 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:16:16 AM PDT

    •  It's more than ignorance. It's an act of privilege (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kristina40, grover

      It's saying the status quo is great, because I'm on top.

    •  The term was used so frequently on MTP (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cama2008, Kristina40, Paragryne, grover

      that I wouldn't be surprised if it were being distributed in some current conservative talking points -- post Bundy. It's a lie, and they know it. The conscious exploitation of widespread racism is part of their permanent playbook. When they get caught they are wide-eyed and innocent.

    •  It's just cluelessness (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paragryne

      It comes so naturally like breathing, they just don't notice it.  They seem to be completely unaware of what they sound like and what they say.  So, if my dad says something appallingly racist, so bad that I look around to see if my kids heard and so I can do damage control, and I bring it up later, he denies saying it, he doesn't remember.  It never happened.  Because taking a breath isn't something you reflect upon.

    •  It may be good to say "outlier" if we want (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cjtjc

      societal change.

      Saying an undesirable behavior is mainstream or dominant makes many people then conclude it is socially acceptable.  The term Outlier is a way to marginalize the behavior.

      While the term outlier may not be accurate, it may be more useful.

      Maybe we need to think of the term outlier, as an outlier against acceptable behavior instead of an outlier of how people actually behave.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 08:18:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see your point, but... (0+ / 0-)

        I think any value in that perspective is overwhelmingly trumped by its policy consequences (e.g. the Supreme Court acting as though racism is chiefly a relic of the past).

        •  Saying unacceptable behavior is common makes it (0+ / 0-)

          more acceptable for most people, and tells those that do it that they are in the majority and don't need to change.

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 08:53:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  On the other hand ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            grover, TorturedIllogic

            ... saying that only those people are racists tells most people that the way they themselves behave is just fine, because it's not like those people -- even if their own behavior is still pretty racist and only looks good by comparison.

            In other words, they'll still believe they're in the majority and don't need to change.

            •  focus on the behavior being an outlier, so it is (0+ / 0-)

              easier for people to see their own behavior and change.  This makes it easier and more likely for people in general to change.

              When the focus is individuals rather than behavior, it is all too easy to ignore one's own behavior and the need to change as the issue does not directly have anything with oneself. When the target is the behavior, one much more quickly can call into question one's own behavior if the behavior is something they do.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:54:38 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  outliers? (4+ / 0-)

    ha....no.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:16:33 AM PDT

  •  What % of Gregory's guests are minority? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kristina40, Petey2, Phil N DeBlanc, grover

    I'd venture it's not representative of the racial make up of the US.

    What % are women? I'd venture it's not the gender make up of the US.

    What % are gay?  I'd venture it's not the gay make up of the US.

    What % are Democrat?  I'd venture it's not the Democrat make up of the US.

    Gregory is the outlier.

    "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

    by We Shall Overcome on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:28:17 AM PDT

  •  Gingrich's "food stamp president" sealed it (6+ / 0-)

    They are not outliers at all. They do it all the time.

    Recall, January 2012, Newt running in the South Carolina primary, calling Obama the "food stamp president".

    A thought experiment: On Twin Earth, does anyone call President John McCain the "food-stamp president"? Is it "politically incorrect" there to call him that? Or is it just so tactically weird to pin that label on a white Republican who inherited a huge recession that the idea simply never occurred to anyone? If, back in our world, it's not "politically correct" and not tactically weird to pin that label on a black Democrat who inherited a huge recession, then why not?
    And then, January 2012, Newt won the South Carolina primary.

    As dogwhistles go, "food stamp president" has the subtlety of an F-18 crashing through the sound barrier. And in South Carolina? Please.

    “Hardworking men and women who are busting their tails in full-time jobs shouldn't be left in poverty.” -- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:28:39 AM PDT

    •  I suppose it's progress... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cama2008, Kristina40, Positronicus

      that they now immediately distance themselves from whoever among them gets caught. Not long ago they would have tried to excuse and explain away comments like Bundy's.

      But the "outlier" lie is what allows the Supreme Court to get away with destroying the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action.

  •  Based on my experience with my fellow white (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Petey2, Kristina40, cama2008, Paragryne

    folk, many who are conservatives - no, it's not an outlier. That kind of sentiment is prevalent - remember all the GOP legislators getting caught forwarding racists emails? Some of those get forwarded on to me - it's not a bug in the system, it's a feature.

    "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

    by We Shall Overcome on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:44:40 AM PDT

    •  "It's just a joke, lighten up!" (3+ / 0-)

      When my uncle forwards a picture of watermelons growing in front of the White House, he doesn't say to himself that he is engaging in racist behavior. To the contrary, he believes himself enlightened, even post-racial. The world has changed enough to make such race-oriented jokes safe(after all, we have a black president!). It's a weird sort of mental gymnastics in which he provides his own twisted justifications for his conservative anti-government ideology. Like Rich Lowry, he sees himself as "colorblind," while liberal activists who see an unlevel playing field are the real racists.

      •  The "joke" lets them off the hook - they never (0+ / 0-)

        have to think further about racism because the "jokes" dehumanize minorities. And the "jokes" are so prevalent, it becomes this endless loop where they reinforce one another with these "jokes" and then the "jokes" manifest in such things as "welfare queen" and "handouts are slavery" and so on. That's as far as the thinking goes. And of course, they don't have a racist bone in their bodies - they've never personally committed an act of racism.

        They're in a bubble.

        "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

        by We Shall Overcome on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:30:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Man, there are a lot of outliers out there. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Petey2, Paragryne, Kristina40

    A brief exercise: find any internet news article about the upcoming film adaptation of the Annie musical, starring  Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx, and read as many of the comments as you can stomach.

    Loooot of outliers.

  •  Sure, they're outliars! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kristina40, grover

    (Oh, never mind!)

  •  Minor correction: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Petey2, Kristina40, cama2008, grover

    Racists who stumble all over themselves and spill the beans, on-mic and before the cameras, are 'outliers'... a euphemism for 'security leaks'.

    The rest know how to protect the secret handshake.

  •  "Outlier": (out -li- er) (0+ / 0-)

    A person who doesn't know how to judge the environment in which he is speaking before he says exactly what he --and many others -- believes to be is true.

    See also: "someone who needs media training."

    © grover


    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 09:44:38 AM PDT

  •  That MTP discussion just killed me (0+ / 0-)

    My husband turns that on every week.  I don't know why he tortures himself.  But this time I was watching with him and we were both just like ... 4 well-off older white guys against one woman of color -- and we're supposed to be shocked at how the discussion turns out?  The people producing this pile of shit are really OK with this panel composition, on this topic?  White men know all that needs to be said about affirmative action?  Fuck 'em all, I mean really.  I'd rather see a panel of four aggrieved "poor white kids from Appalachia" and the one woman of color than this uselessness.

    There can be no greater indication of the contempt with which Gregory and whoever else runs that show holds the very idea of viewpoints that don't fit their own narrow definition of rational objectivity -- almost inevitably some combination of white, older, affluent, straight, and male --than that panel.

    •  For me, it was accidental (0+ / 0-)

      I no longer torment myself with that shit. Just happened to have MSNBC on in the background and noticed they were talking about racism during the rerun of MTP. It really is a pathetic show -- and I think David Gregory's little extemporaneous editorializing epitomized its empty mindset.

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