Offensive Remark of the Week: Geraldine Ferraro Swears She Isn’t Racist Edition

by Cara on March 12, 2008

in 2008 election, assholes, bigotry, Democrats, offensive remark of the week, politics, race and racism

I’m pissed off about the Spitzer thing, if you haven’t noticed. Happy that he resigned, but still really pissed. And so right about now, my patience for Democratic politicians who are going to act like absolute fucking morons is virtually non-existent.

Sorry about that, Geraldine Ferraro and those hellbent on defending her for absolutely no good reason. I’m not going to play it nice.

Regardless of my mood, the comments that Ferraro made are outrageously offensive. If you somehow haven’t heard them, here you go:

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

Now, some people want to say that she didn’t mean anything racist by this. She was just stating the facts, and hey, what she said is true. Sure, if you have spent your entire life living outside of this racist culture where race-baiting is extremely common on the ludicrous premise that black people have some sort of advantage over white people because of their skin color, looking at the words themselves with absolutely no context, what she says is factually correct. First of all, all kinds of factors that we use to socially-define ourselves change the outcome of our lives. Of course. Secondly, if Obama was white, he wouldn’t exactly be in a position to run as the first black president, now would he? There you go, I’m sure that’s all that Geraldine Ferraro meant.

Or I would be if someone managed to convince me that a woman who once ran on a presidential ticket really doesn’t understand very much about politics. Kind of a hard sell, and a condescending one, too. Ferraro is clearly a bigot, but that doesn’t make her an idiot.

So can we cut the crap? I know what she meant, you know what she meant, we all know what she meant. She meant that Obama is “lucky” to be black, because his skin color has given him a free pass his entire life. She meant that we live in a culture where black people have all of the advantages because white people are just so terrified of being called racist. She meant that Hillary is having a hard time in the race because she is a woman — which is true enough — but that Obama has this magic forcefield around him that no one dare breach, and that this forcefield is made out of darkly pigmented skin.

But some will say, oh, that’s not what she meant. Because there’s no argument so stupid, particularly when it comes to proving that something was totally NOT racist, that someone will not show up on a comment thread to defend it. To actually hold this position, you have to a.) know jackshit about politics (possible) or b.) be disingenuous and at least a little racist yourself (more likely). In fact, Ferraro herself put any question of her racism to rest when she responded to the outrage over her comments, not by apologizing, not by explaining what she really meant, but by letting us know yet again that Obama is getting away with some super-special black privilege.

“Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist,” she said. “I will not be discriminated against because I’m white. If they think they’re going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don’t know me.”

Then she said:

“Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world, you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up,” Ferraro said. “Racism works in two different directions. I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”

That’s right, she pulled the reverse racism card. And do you know what card that is, my friends? It’s the card you play when you’ve been called out for being racist — and oops, you actually were, so it’s the only defense left. She also ended the statement with one of the most childish phrases in the book. It’s smug, it’s taunting, and it indicates a couple of things. The first is that she actually believed this to be a solid argument, so solid that she could throw it in the face of her detractors. The second is that she finds real allegations of racism to be ridiculous and amusing. By repeating the charge in reverse, she most likely thinks that she’s cleverly pointing out the reactionary and absurd nature of the original allegation against her. Instead, it just makes her look like a bigger asshole.

To the extent that they exist, I think that feminists who actually believe this shit isn’t racist are few and far between. Unfortunately, Clinton supporters as a whole aren’t so pragmatic. I don’t have the time for any of them.

The. Remarks. Are. Racist. Deal with it.

Look, the Obama campaign has done some sexist shit. They’ve crossed the line, more than once. But from reading the news, and reading the blogs of feminists who write about these issues, including feminists who strongly support Clinton, the Obama campaign has absolutely not gone off the deep end like this. If you’ve got alternate evidence, I’d love to see it.

With Clinton, most of the (hugely prevalent) sexist commentary is from the media, not her current rival — and yet her campaign has been fueling the racist flames like there’s no tomorrow. The repeated proclamations that sexism is worse than racism, the mantra that voting for Obama is betraying women, (possibly) releasing photos of him in traditional Muslim dress with clearly insidious goals, darkening his skin color in campaign ads (allegedly — I think it’s true) and now this. It’s almost enough for me to want John “don’t oppress me ’cause I’m white” Edwards back in the race. At the very least, he and Ferraro should do lunch.

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{ 9 comments }

1 Kristen March 12, 2008 at 8:23 pm

Cara,

Would you mind if I have a small crush on you? (And my husband too?)

Exactly what I wanted to say only eloquently and without swearing.

2 Pizzadiavola March 12, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Cara, I agree with your post in that the “reverse racism” crap is crap, period, and I wonder what the hell Ferraro was thinking. It’s like Steinem’s op-ed, but a lot less articulate and minus any redeeming value or interesting points.

However, regarding the race-baiting by the Clinton campaign, I don’t think the accusations of the photo (Clinton disavowed it and Obama said he’d take her word for it) or the darkening are accurate.

3 Redstar March 12, 2008 at 9:14 pm

That darkening thing has been debunked by one of the media or political watchdog orgs.

4 Redstar March 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Also, there’s no evidence (unless you take Drudge at his word) that the Clinton campaign is responsible for the traditional dress photo either.

5 Moody March 12, 2008 at 11:18 pm

It’s hard to believe that it’s a democrat saying that. It’s normal to hear repubies doing things like that. The embarrassment just keeps getting worse.

6 Paul March 12, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Someone elsewhere made a comment to the effect that if “Even if McCain is elected ’cause of this stupid fighting, at least he’s not a God botherer”

Unfortunately McCain is not an atheist.

Atheists don’t get elected to anything in the USA, certainly not to the Senate from Arizona – or the Presidency for that matter.

For the record:

McCain: Baptist
Romney: Mormon
Giuliani: Catholic
Huckabee: Baptist
Thompson: Church of Christ

Clinton: Methodist *
Obama: Church of Christ
Edwards: Methodist

*But since Bill Clinton is a Baptist, she usually attends Baptist services.

7 Kristen March 13, 2008 at 10:27 am

Did you hear Olbermann’s response last night? It was absolutely lovely. It’s up at Pandagon for those who missed it.

8 Betty Boondoggle March 13, 2008 at 2:13 pm

“Did you hear Olbermann’s response last night”

To repeat what I said at Shakesville:

There’s something grosteque about such an unrepentant sexist, who’s been crapping all over her this entire campaign, to now be lecturing her.

But, he’s right.

9 Cara March 14, 2008 at 4:17 pm

All I know about the photo thing is that if the Clinton campaign has denied it, they waited a long time to do so. All of the first remarks did not deny releasing the picture but merely stated that “there is nothing wrong” with it. Which is true enough (kind of like a literal interpretation of Ferraro’s remarks), but I think that we all know what is “wrong” with it politically when we’re in the middle of a race where Obama’s middle name is constantly used and he is constantly called a Muslim (by Republicans) as though both of those things are smears — and in a campaign where, to some extent, those tactics are working. If they have since said that it wasn’t them, then okay, but I do have to wonder why the campaign (not Clinton herself) fanned the flames.

As for the video, I don’t buy the explanations. The fact that the whole video is darkened proves nothing to me — this would be the most obvious way to darken the image. The claims of compression don’t seem to hold up for me, as compressed original videos from diferent networks are all much lighter, and since the Clinton campaign is hardly going to be working with super-cheap technology. I also don’t buy the “everyone darkens images in campaign ads” stuff, either. This is a problem in itself and feeds into the whole “dark is bad” message. If “dark” wasn’t seen as bad, there would be no controversy. But it is seen as bad, and the “everybody else is doing it line” doesn’t impress me. I think it’s a practice that needs to go, and the excuse of failing to think about racial issues, if true, isn’t actually a good excuse at all.

I will agree that it is impossible to prove whether or not they did it on purpose. And I think that the nose-widening crap is false — if it’s wider at all, it’s a tiny difference and probably due to the color contrast changes. But personally, do I think that they darkened the video, for whatever reason? I do.

I have added caveats for both to the post.

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