Montana Politics

On intellectual conversation with racism

One of the striking and fantastic things about internet conversation is the relatively free association of people – physical space becomes irrelevant, and it is all of the sudden easy to engage people from throughout the world in conversation, to undertake debates with seemingly anyone and use anyone’s work as source material, with the potential for inspiring a response from anyone who stumbles upon your work. With such a huge variety of choices to be made, those choices take on additional significance. No longer limited to citing ones local newspaper or journals available at a public library, a person’s source of a citation becomes very telling. And with feedback so immediate, how a person interacts with the audience they cultivate and engage with becomes all the more significant.

This has had me thinking in the past weeks about the appropriate way to deal with source material or commentators who are undeniably racist. Two recent cases troubled me because they involved authors who are almost certainly free of racial bias, who nonetheless lent some measure of legitimacy to much uglier writers. The first was Mark Tokarski citing and endorsing the opinion of one Richard Spencer regarding Libya. The problem? Richard Spencer believes in ‘race realism’, whereby Africans are inherently less intelligent and more anti-social than other race (for evidence, follow the link and find the category ‘human biodiversity’.) He thus seems uniquely unqualified to write about the future of an African nation. Mark and my conversation meandered a bit, but at no point would he admit that his source was invalid or even problematic. – I obviously don’t think Mark entertains any racist thoughts, but to defend such a source on such a topic despite the overwhelming wealth of information on the internet does a disservice to the quality of discussion and gives unnecessary validity to those who advocate patently invalid ideas.

Far more troubling is inaction when one’s own words feed and stir the racist pot, as Dustin Hurst did in his false attack against Schweitzer, claiming the governor had accused Montanans of being generally racist. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the tide of racist appreciation he received for the article. But when people agreeing (and nearly every comment agreeing with the article exposed the racism of its writer) with you start throwing around terms like ‘Adam’s (white) dominion), For Whites by Whites, and race traitor, some kind of response is appropriate. I know Dustin thinks he is a journalist, and thus has no time for commenting on his own articles, but a real journalist also does a little fact checking. If you are going to write false statements that stir up a disgusting, racist response, you have a journalistic and moral responsibility to address them. Again, I don’t think Dustin is a racist, but he apparently does not share most people’s aversion to racism, and is functionally encouraging it by falling down on his responsibilities as a journalist.

Racism is an irrational and socially destructive ideology that has no place in modern discourse, save as a cautionary tale. Those who write on the internet, then, have a responsibility to avoid giving validity to racist thought processes, either by holding racist writers up as ‘experts’ or feeding into the racial illusions of their readers and commentators.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Whoa, first you deny what BS said and then you state it has no place in modern discourse.

    Let’s revisit the actual quote, shall we?

    “All over Montana, you can walk into a bar, a café or even a school or a courthouse and just listen for a while as people talk to each other,” Schweitzer explained, shortly after noting 93 percent of his state’s population is classified as Caucasian. “And you will hear somebody, before very long, say something outrageously racist about the people who’ve lived in Montana for 10,000 years.”

    The governor delivered the program to sway the minds and hearts of Treasure State youngsters. “So, I decided, I can’t turn the heart of a 45-year-old redneck,” Schweitzer said.

    Not only are these Montanan bar flies racists they’re “outrageous” racists.

    Won’t even get into the “redneck” label.

    • Fallacy. It is you, Swede, who are deliberately generalizing from the instance to the whole, on behalf of another. That’s called a Straw Man, and it is the well worn trope of those who defend racism.

      • I’ll go part way with you. Let’s call BS and my generalizations straw man racial overtones.

        ‘Cept in my case when it came to STRO’s I backed them up with facts.

        I doubt our good Gov. ever went into that bar or bars and took accurate surveys.

        • I don’t understand your comment, Ingy. Are you denying that there are racists in Montana, or that it is common to hear racism against Indians?

    • “Whoa, first you deny what BS said and then you state it has no place in modern discourse.”

      How do you figure? Schweitzer did not say Montanans are generally racists, he said that throughout the State you will hear racist things anywhere people are talking for long enough. Brian is doing exactly what one should do as regards racists – call them out, then try to counter that attitude with our own actions.

      Certainly not all Montanans are rednecks, and not all rednecks are racist. But if you ask any self-described redneck (and there’s plenty of them proud of the label), you’ll find that they all pride themselves on being stubborn. By the age of 45 they know what they believe, and if that includes some racism, they will be hard to sway. Hence making sure our kids don’t fall into that same trap.

      • The word “racist” truly has lost its meaning. It used to mean some southern cracker yanking some “boy” off the white only drinking fountain. Now it means if you you cast a vote for Mitt they give you a white hood when you leave the booth.

        You’ve cheapened the term. 52 cards in the deck and you’re into the next pallet. It’s becomes laughable, it’s lost it’s sting. Mostly because of substance. No one’s denied the front of the bus, drinking fountains don’t differentiate. Everything integrated, preferential treatments the norm.

        Of course all that’s left is what people think. What goes on in their heads, sure they don’t act like racists but I know they’re thinking like one. Hate crimes is a prime example. What was the perp thinking? Can’t we get some extra jail time for his thoughts?

        I define a racist by his actions. For example this Pres.. has done NOTHING to put minorities to work.

        And to me that’s a bigger crime than someone’s thoughts.

        • I don’t know, I think calling for white dominion or declaring racial equality a myth are both legitimately racist. I’ve never called anyone a racist for holding a valid political opinion; Richard Spencer is a racist, as are the comments on Hurst’s site. Read them – some of them are even proud of it (‘only dumbed down whites would believe racism is a bad thing).

          The racism there is undeniable. Also, you might note that in the last year black unemployment has gone down to where it was in 2009. But you won’t note that, because you never seem to be willing to delve into anything more complex than one article.

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