Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's Michelle Obama's fault

The headline over at Slate this morning is: Is Michelle Obama responsible for the Jeremiah Wright fiasco?

Not kidding. It's another priceless gem from Christopher "Women just aren't funny" Hitchens.

His reasoning? Michelle Obama wrote a thesis at Princeton called "Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community" where she says she's influenced by Stokey Carmichael and black separatism, which, in Hitchens opinion, is probably why Obama stayed at that church as long as he did. Hitchens goes on to ask, "Are we getting two for one?"

Let me just quote Tina Fey on this one: "'Cause that would be terrible... having two intelligent, qualified people working together to solve problems. Ugh."

27 comments:

Ryan Capuano said...

That's the problem with Christopher Hitchens: he's a really, really smart person, but everything he says and everything he believes is extremely offensive. God forbid we have someone in the White House with an education.

Goose said...

It isn't that she is educated. Her problem is that she dislikes this nation and promotes disunity and discord, which is the exact opposite of what a first lady should do.

Jezabel said...

Her other problem is that she's extremely racist.

Ryan Capuano said...

Her other problem is that she's extremely racist.

First I've heard of this.

Lindsay said...

Hitchen's point is that behind every man is a crazy woman. So it's not Wright's fault that the things he says can be divisive or intolerant... It's Michelle Obama's fault, implying that Obama is, pardon my language, pussy-whipped.

Which isn't true at all.

all american girl said...

Ryan -
Mrs. B. Hussien Obama blames the white people for all the troubles in the world.

Lindsay said...

If you want to make a claim about something, back it up with data. If you really think Michelle Obama "dislikes the nation and promotes disunity and discord," cite it. I'm an academic - I'm not going to believe anyone unless it's backed up by facts. "Extremely racist"? Give me a link.

I know what you're doing by calling her "Mrs. B. Hussein Obama" and it's not going to get anywhere with me. It's low politics and just makes me think you can't come up with any real critique. First off, Hussein is a common name. Second, use her name - Michelle Obama and not "Mrs. Obama." She is her own person apart from who she happened to marry. And if she really blames white people for all the problems in the world, I want to see a quote.

Seriously. Unsubstantiated arguments aren't going to fly here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amelia said...

Anon, your comment is being deleted because questioning people's bodily functions is inappropriate and unproductive.

Goose said...

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before," the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong."

"I based my definition on the premise that there is a distinctive black culture very different from white culture."

From this site: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html


here is a speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1J54St7ZYY

"I use this term because she dedicated her senior thesis at Princeton to promoting the differences between the black and white race and whether or not they should integrate. To me this is the biggest problem regarding race, the fact that people still see it (TRN was right) and insist that there are differences because of the colors of our skin. It is sad really sad, and I hope some people can see through her rhetoric about change."

from here: http://www.blandlife.com/archives/379/michelle-obama-is-a-racist-and-hates-america/

and besides the fact of comments that offend people such as the following: “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

from here:http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/02/19/michelle-obama-takes-heat-for-saying-shes-proud-of-my-country-for-the-first-time/

is that enough information for you, Ms. Academic?

Goose said...

Also, Calling any person by the title Mr. or Mrs. used to be a sign of respect. has our culture become so warped that if you call a woman by her married name she loses personhood status. I doubt that. She happens to be married to the guy, therefore Mrs. Barack Obama is a perfectly legitimate title for her to hold.

Amelia said...

The context we discussed, Goose, was when All American Girl decided to call her "Mrs. B. Hussien Obama" which was not meant to be respectful. At all. So why not use her name?

Jezabel said...

I do not understand how All American Girl's calling her "Mrs. B. Huissen Obama" is disrepsectful. That's his name. She married him. And many people call him as such.

Amelia said...

She did not ask "Mrs. Barack Obama." She emphasized his middle name, Hussein, as a tired tactic that has been used by so many to insinuate that he is Muslim and he is a terrorist. It is a means of discrediting her that is disrespectful.

Of course, AAG, if I am wrong, feel free to chime in at any time.

Goose said...

Second, use her name - Michelle Obama and not "Mrs. Obama." She is her own person apart from who she happened to marry.

This is the section i was refuting. Mrs. Obama is a perfectly respectful name. All American Girl may have made a disrespectful comment, that I give you, albeit a commonly used name, but The response took it farther imho.

Amelia said...

I would have to agree with you, Goose, that calling her Mrs. Obama is not in itself a bad thing, but when we are talking about Michelle, and trying to discuss her as more than just part of the Michelle-Barack team, it would be useful to call her Michelle Obama, which signifies more of a separation than simply Mrs. Obama. That may be a small thing, but something, I think, that is worth noting.

all american girl said...

Amelia

B. Huissen Obama is in fact Muslim. Yes. It is not the main reason I refer to him as such, however. I should not have to explain myself. Like Jezabel said, she married him, thus linking herself to him. Calling her Mrs B. H. Obama would be no different.

Amelia said...

I'm sorry, AAG, but that is pure ignorance. Barack Obama is not a Muslim. He has made numerous statements about those claims. He says he is a practicing Christian. And if you are going to say such blatant falsities, yes, you have to explain yourself.

This is off topic, anyway, I just had to point out that you. are. wrong.

Lindsay said...

Goose, thanks for finding exact quotes. That's useful in addressing your claims.

As for the quotes from her Princeton thesis, I feel she's acknowledging a difference between the experiences of black Americans and the experiences of white Americans. She writes, "I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong." As someone coming from a blue-collar family, I often feel this way with some of people here at Yale who come from a higher economic class than I do. I think people can make distinctions at Ivy League institutions between gender, class, and yes, race.

"I use this term because she dedicated her senior thesis at Princeton to promoting the differences between the black and white race and whether or not they should integrate."

Again, I don't feel like she's promoting racial separation as much as she's acknowledging that it exists - they aren't the same thing. Quoting someone's opinion of Michelle Obama isn't the same as quoting Michelle Obama and her desire to segregate races in America.

“People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

If some people are offended by that, that's their opinion and I have to respect that. Personally, I agree with her somewhat. Going off of the last eight years, there's little I respect about what America has done as a nation. We've unilaterally started wars, we've legalized torture, we've wiretapped our own citizens, we've infringed on personal liberties and almost every part of the Bill of Rights (I'm just waiting for the forced quartering of militia to start up again), we've sucked the funding out of many useful social programs such as Americorp to fund a war that benefits the wallets of the elite. I am not proud of any of that and it makes it hard to own up to being an American. Going off of that statement (which I'm fairly certain the Obama campaign tried to revise at some point), isn't it a good sign that she's starting to be proud of the country? I think it's disappointing that people focus on the "first time in my adult life" part of the statement as opposed to the part that acknowledges people are ready for change and better politics.

As for the complaints about "Mrs. Obama," I personally feel it's a sign of the overtly patriarchal culture we are beginning to move out of. If that's more offensive to you than trying to slander someone by making people think he's Muslim (not true and not something to be ashamed of or is any less patriotic), then that's too bad.

illusory tenant said...

I really like this blog, but I have to disagree with this post. I don't think it's fair, or even warranted, to play a feminism card against Hitchens in this case (and I know how infuriating he can be).

It's fair to question the association Michelle Obama may have had -- however flirtingly -- with the political philosophies of people like Stokely Carmichael and his contemporary fellow travelers.

If, as Hitchens maintains, Barack Obama has convincingly demonstrated time and again that he does not share in Wright's wilder fancies and associations at all, it still leaves one wondering how the Obamas came to sit in Wright's pews for 20 years, and his officiating at their marriage.

Amelia said...

I have some problems with assuming that it's Michelle Obama's fault. That comes off to me as a slight to Barack Obama, who is made out to be unable to stand up to his wife or even disagree with her. That may or may not be the case, but I think it's unfair to be assuming that right off.

I would also like to say thank you, Illusory Tenant, for disagreeing with this post in a respectful manner. Really, it's very nice to see someone able to do that.

But I would like to say that your statement "I don't think it's fair, or even warranted, to play a feminism card against Hitchens in this case (and I know how infuriating he can be)" is unfair.

All Lindsay said about Hitchens that could have been considered a "feminist care" was when she called him Christopher "Women just aren't funny" Hitchens, and that was not even in direct correlation to this particular case.

I think you were kind of falling into the old "What does this have to do with feminism?" trap that I think people should avoid. If one of the contributors to this blog finds something interesting or important, but it is not directly tied to feminism, they are free to write about it here.

illusory tenant said...

Yeah, I was being deliberately (but only mildly and good-naturedly at that) provocative when I said, "play the feminist card."

But it doesn't seem to me at all that Hitchens is "blaming" Michelle Obama, only that it's fair to scrutinize the potential (many would say probable) First Lady for clues as to how in the world Senator Obama came to be connected with anachronistic fruitcakes like Jeremiah Wright and Farrakhan.

Whether one agrees with him or not, Hitchens can always be depended on to find a different angle to any story, and of course he's a superb wordsmith.

Amelia said...

Alright, I give you that. It is not unfair to examine her role in keeping Barack "in Wright's pew," although I think it would be wise to keep in mind that Barack is his own person.

I just worry that this might end up being a way for people to take swings at her unnecessarily (I could see the possibility of it in some people here).

But you are right.

Lindsay said...

As someone who has been a member of the same church since I was 13, I have to say I understand why they might have stayed members for as long as they did. The church isn't just the pastor, it's the people who go there and the ministry it does. When I go to church, yeah, I want to hear what the pastor has to say, but I'm there for the community and meaning that the other members bring as well. I don't agree with some of the things my church's pastors say and quite frankly, I don't really like a lot of the things they've done in terms of different ministries in the church. Some people have left, but some have stayed as well. For me, at least, a local church isn't about the figurehead who runs it, it's about the people you're sitting next to on a weekly basis.

The UCC is one of the most liberal denominations and that's the beauty of it, everyone's accepted. So while that has obvious positive points, it has also negative points as well. You're not going to agree with someone 100% of the time, and I think that the pulpit is no place for partisan politics - a message of social justice, yes, but not a lot of what Wright has said.

However, I don't think it's fair to dig up an old college thesis to try and pin the blame on Michelle Obama when it's Wright who has said the inflammatory things.

People can change a lot over the course of 20 years, as well. Maybe Wright felt pressured to be more bombastic and inflammatory in his remarks as time went on, moving away from what drew people to the church in the first place.

illusory tenant said...

I just worry that this might end up being a way for people to take swings at her unnecessarily ...

Oh, I'm with you 100% on that. But that's going to happen anyway. Just wait until the general election!

And, for the record, it doesn't trouble me in the slightest that Michelle Obama may have thoughtfully considered, at some point or another, some radical politics.

I would expect any educated person to have thought about, even for the purpose of rejecting, all sorts of political perspectives.

illusory tenant said...

The church isn't just the pastor, it's the people who go there ...

Excellent point.

Lindsay said...

I would expect any educated person to have thought about, even for the purpose of rejecting, all sorts of political perspectives.

After all, how are you supposed to know where you stand about something if you haven't considered all of the positions on a topic?