“I’m not on any team…not after what I’ve seen. All that backslapping makes me want to scream.” Graham Parker
Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed by race in America and specifically the racial injustice built into our founding and founding documents. My website idiscoveredamerica.com is a compendium of articles about basically my two obsessions…race and Graham Parker (which surprisingly or at least on the surface have little to do with each other). And of course there is my novel which is basically about race in America even though most of it takes place in England. Now I know that anyone who spends any time honestly discussing race invariably gets into hot water, including the risk of being considered racist. So it is interesting that I was in a political discussion on Facebook where I declined to talk about race and felt that I was accused of being racist because of it.
Now I know there are usually two sides to every story and I will only tell mine. I also admit up front that I am not gentle on Facebook, leaning more towards honesty than civility.
The history is relevant. I wake up every day in a panic due to the person who holds the office of POTUS. Although I have not worked on a campaign for anybody in over 40 years, I decided that I would find a candidate for Congress who reflects my centrist democratic views and I would volunteer. While most of my heated political discussions are with the Trumpists and the Bernieites, that was irrelevant, since in my highly Republican district there were three democratic candidates who were centrist democrats. I picked the one who I thought was truly a superstar and had the best chance to win, as she had the backing of many centrist democrats; so I supported her.
Perhaps in response to the support my candidate received by “the party bosses”, one of the other candidates decided to go negative, pointing out in a mailing that my candidate either did not live in the district or had just moved there; and that she had taken money from some of the attorneys representing Toys ‘R Us in the bankruptcy to the detriment of many loyal workers. I defended these negative attacks as part of the game, but others on a relevant political site did not take so kindly to the negativity and expressed their concerns. Since the candidate who went negative is black, some posters thought that the criticism went over the top and had a racial tinge. It was pointed out that the barrage of criticism was really a form of microaggression, a form of racism. I didn’t see it, but so be it, since by definition a microaggression is often something felt by a person in the same group and blind to the person doing it or others not in that group. The consensus of the group was to use it as a teaching moment.
Then came the next mailing. It continued with the negativity but also did something I found so strange that I could not leave it alone. Under the section of who was supporting my candidate were the words…”Goldman Sachs Bankers”. Clearly this was meant to be negative and I could not help but try to figure out why that term was used. As a Jewish person, I am sensitive to a broad array of anti Semitism which includes the time honored suggestion that Jewish Bankers are most responsible for ruining the world. I went to the cited source sheet to see where this might have come from and although employees of Goldman Sachs were listed as donors to my candidate, so were many others(note that the word “bankers” was not referenced). Weirdly, similar entities donated to the candidate who raised the “Goldman Sachs Bankers” issue. So when the discussion continued about this mailer, I suggested that such a reference was
perhaps anti Semitic or at least a microagression against me. It was suggested by one poster that I “tread lightly”. (To that poster and others I suggest you google “David Duke Goldman Sachs). I long for an explanation of why that term was in a mailer, an explanation I have yet to receive.
So flash forward a few days. In the initial discussion about microagression it was unclear to some on the board what they or anyone had done wrong. In their mind they were just castigating a candidate for going negative, not walking into a racial minefield. So someone in the group provided some websites describing microaggression, which I found interesting. Although the post seemed to be about the term “microaggression” all the posts were about race. It was well received. A day later, I wanted to interject that microaggression was not just about race, it could be about any group that one is a member of (my understanding is that the term first was used by women in college, but on this I may be wrong). Here I will admit to an inartful post that was meant to remind folks that in the last discussion on the subject I interjected the concept of anti Semitism as a microaggression, being that it was the candidate’s OWN LITERATURE that offended me, not the posting of a member of the group.
Well I got accused of a lot of things. It was “problematic” that I changed the subject. (Did I?). I was told that I should not have interjected my gripe about anti Semitism in a discussion that was about race. I always want to talk about race but I thought it was a discussion about microaggression. Evidently I was wrong. I will say that the original post said something about trying to understand the feelings of someone who felt slighted. I did understand their feelings but I doubt they gave mine a second thought. The problem of course is that it is a microagression to not talk about race when others want to talk about race, even if your point is relevant to the subject. My suggestion would be to not have any discussion on Facebook unless you are willing to be interrupted by my irrelevant dribble.
I didn’t stay around long enough to see how it worked out. I left the discussion and blocked the site since the moderator had already been called in and I cant imagine how I would have been seen in any but a negative light. I will again note that I think my candidate is a superstar who has a great chance to flip the seat in November. But there is a serious racial issue out there when the DCCC only backs one of 43 black women candidates running for congress. They cant all be running against superstars. I suggest that it is a lot easier for the powers that be to placate the microaggrieved on Facebook, than to actually give them a seat at the table. So yes I think I do understand the anger and the hostility even though nobody likes it when it is directed towards them.
Unlike some on the site, had I been provided with an explanation, even a bad one, I would have voted for that candidate in the general election had she won the primary(she didn’t, my candidate did). I just think that when someone suggests that others are racist they should expect push back just as when someone hints at anti Semitism, perhaps naively, they should be called out. Politics is not an amateur hour….it is blood sport. Even on Facebook…perhaps especially on Facebook.