Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

15 Thoughts on “Why Janeane Garofalo is Dangerously Wrong

  1. What’s “left” about Bank Bailouts? “Left” was when McGovern campaigned for a basic level of income for every American. What’s Obama’s doing is Chicago style politics of dishing out contracts to build a machine. There is little “left” about him or this with him.

    People both “right” and “left” are indignent about running a deficit to bailout capitalism. There is nothing racist about it.

  2. Bill,

    Your points are well received, and I agree the right vs. left dichtomy does not really work all that well. But it is what we have to describe the perceived political difference in this country. But the point of the protests is to me tangential at best to what I was trying to get at with the article, and that was this tendency among some of the most ardent activists on the left/liberal/progressive end of the political spectrum to “otherize” the right in the same way they complain the right does about others.

    The inappropriate aspects of the right/left paradigm is a different article. Cant do everything at once…

    Yours in Faith,


  3. Great post! But I am astonished at your astonishment; to my experience, this is the normal mindset of a great many liberals- that it comes as a surprize to you clearly shows you’ve spent more time with soldiers than UUs. I heard it said from the pulpit- a guest minister, thank God, not our regular minister- that “To be Republican is to be racist, sexist, and homophobic, and if there is a Republican here, don’t come up afterwards and tell me you’re different. You’re lying, if only to yourself.” From a Unitarian blog: “Conservatives are incapable of analytic thought. They can memorize a few facts and parrot them back, but not really think.” And from another: “There are no good reasons to vote against Senator Obama, just one bad one.” To be a conservative UU, one must have a skin thick enough to be the heat shield for a space capsule- and in my experience, every time one says what you said in your final paragraph, the response is “you just want liberals to shut up so you can have it your way.”

  4. …let me just add then, that I believe we’re in the midst of a great redefining of just what’s “left” and “right” these days.

    Political Conservatives understand that well coming out from the Bush years –which many didn’t think that conservative– defeat (which always focuses the mind), plus just being more of an ideas party.

    It hasn’t sunk in yet for Liberal Democrats (who often avoid the word Liberal)… they’re far more an amalgam of interest groups without shared ideas; hence the premium on unity via the least common denominator.

    Obama’s going to be a bitter disappoint for them. He may rise to the moment but I suspect hammering out a new Libeal consensus on just what’s Liberal will be beyond him. Clintionism is going to be about as good as gets for the left.

  5. Bill, I agree… and I too do not know where it is going to shake out. Perhaps Arianna Huffington is right and it will shake into a more than two party system…

    But that’s another article…

    Thank you Joel! Astonished is probably too strong a word… such quotes as you mentioned were why I “bounced off” UU’ism the first couple of times. There are aspects of my political ideology that is further to the left than most UU’s, and places where I am more centrist. I actually lean right in a couple of places… I find it interesting when I see the “us vs. them” mentality in our own movement and in our congregations.

    Yours in Faith,


  6. Excellent “rant” there David.

    Oops! I mean excellent sermon. 😉

    Here is yet another quote from the U*U “blogosphere –

    OMG! Mean people DO suck.

    And I just heard from a whole bunch of really mean people.


    end quote

    If this U*U blogger had said Jews, Muslims, the N word, or any number of other racial, religious, cultural or political epithets there would have been “consequences” but Republicans gets a pass and nobody says boo in the U*U World. . .

  7. will shetterly on Sunday April 19, 2009 at 22:18 +0000 said:

    If you haven’t read it already, take a look at Thandeka’s Why Anti-Racism Will Fail. There’s a subset of liberals who like class privilege, but they want it to seem “fair,” so they blame racism and sexism for all the evils of the world, and assume conservatives must be guilty of those sins. But the reality’s not that tidy.

    To be more specific: the guy who wrote and sings the teabagging song is black. So’s Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Michael Steele. Assuming they’re dupes strikes me as incredibly racist.

  8. will shetterly on Sunday April 19, 2009 at 22:29 +0000 said:

    Just found the song:


    They should’ve played it for Garofalo.

  9. This is tad difficutl for me to write because normally Will and I are on the same side.

    Will, your citing those black republicans reveals either a very uninformed or naive understanding of minority politics, or possibly a reach for the absurd to make a point.

    Every minority group has self serving types who for either reasons of self delusion or cynnical attempts at self aggrandizement will do their best to identify with the oppressive part of the majority. Normally we call this tokenism.

    Steele is a joke, like Keyes and JC Watts (whose own father said of him “a black person voting republican is like a Chicken voting for Colonel Sanders”). Steele’s own party has turned on him and revealed him to be the “yassa massa” That he is. And Colin Powel did not even identify himself as African American until he was out of power after Bush I and his Republican Friends weren’t doing anything for him. The idiot even was against MLK. Condii has been a repub from Regan’s time and a loyal Aunt Jamima of the Bushes, but her self serving behavior speaks for itsself.

    Oh, and for the record, getting indignant because a black person points out that a token is a token is not being liberal, its just revealing that you intended to be racist in the first place. Somehow arguing “Well you are assuming you know their mind” is just begging the question and, rather pathetically too I might add.

    Now, as I said, Will, you know I supported your class argument throughout the RaceFail fights you went through. Here, buddy, I really must disagree and say your class position while extremely relevant to the ultimate issue of solving racial strife is not applicable to the argument.

    In terms of Republican v. Democrat the proof is in the behaviors. Democrats and even UU’s have a history that is not anywhere near clean when it comes to racism. That said, the Republicans as a party as a matter of their platforms are still more racism focused in terms of basic ideology than the Democrats.

    David, some push back:
    It is more than a tad naive to sit as a white person and blog on about how a group that supports bigotries like defending confederate flags, putting out racist campaign literature against black candidates and seeing racial intimidation as free speech somehow DOES NOT have white power as part of their base agenda and or ideology. Just because it may make you uncomfortable and it is not PC does not make it any less true. (Because lord calling “a bigot”, ” a conservative” is the biggest PC lie of them all.)

    The Democratic Party is at least making a sincere attempt to speak about diversity for some reason other than to gerrymand civil rights into some twisted incarnation of White Privilige. At least at the core of a Majority of their current beliefs are the ideas that; The Conferacy was wrong and evil, Minorities have a right to be equal and even succeed over whites if they can, Institutional Racism is a danger to be avoided, Our constitution cannot only free some but must free all even if they are not white or english is a second language. Now do they fall? Yes indeedy, but they see it as a fall, not as a “whoopsie…you caught me”.

    This is not a those people = left prejudice situation. There is an ideological “White’s first” defacto-racism within the Republican party that still exists. The raising of Steele, putting Keys against Obama in the Illinois Senate Race, “Obama the Magic Negro”, Raising an incompetent like Thomas to the Supreme Court, these are all forms of the same nasty, racist cynnisim the party of “Strom Thurmond” supports.

  10. Chuck,

    Thank you for the pushback 🙂

    I agree with your assessment of the energies, assumptions, groups, and political power that currently surrounds the Republican party, but I would suggest that it might be besides the point I was focusing on. Before we can authentically critique those other energies and political centers, we first need to see that we are living up to our own values and principles. If we do not, then nothing else we say or do can have any credibility.

    I would say that the “those people” type statements have much more to do with the personal prejudices of the person making the statement than any objective reality. It takes an individual decision to objectify other individuals or even other societal groupings, not societal pressures. Whenever someone says “those people”, I believe it says alot more about their own inner landscape than what they are attempting to describe.

    I agree that we do not want to cloud our vision about what is occurring around us… that we need to be aware of the energies in our current politics, both on the “right” and on the “left” and in the “center”. But we have made a committment, specifically as Unitairan Universalists, to catch ourselves when we move towards objectifying others, and to prophetically call out others when they do the same.

    This is part of the meaning of “The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person.”

    Naive? Perhaps… but most deep faith assertions are. They have to be. For it is in how we are naive that we move towards our better selves.

    Yours in faith,


  11. Well, David I agree with you to an extent. We do have to live up to our own values, and we do have some living to do.

    That said
    However it is easy for you to be Naive, when it is not your rights or your inherent dignity and self worth that are targeted.

    How easy for you to rise above Driving While Black, when you are not?

    How easy for you to clad your naivette like a virtuous armor, when the only immediate effects You will feel will be sadness, not the loss of any inherent right.

    Must really be pleasent: You get to be your better self, I get to worry whether some racist cop (protected by laws and policies created in bigoted Republican fear mongering) will shoot him over a misunderstanding. Wow, how noble you are.

    Me? I do not call for Jews to be sanguine about NAZIS. Nor tolerant of Holocost Deniers the way so many want blacks to be tolerant of slavery deniers. I do not believe I have the ethical right to implore Nettanyahoo (sp?) to embrace Iran’s president. The Korean people do not have to show respect to the Emperor of Japan, nor rabe victims their rapists.

    Sorry, but there is a point when being naive is not noble, that point is about 5 miles behind you if your naivette is simply to keep racist policy makers from “feeling bad”.

    David I am not saying you lack the ability to understand, but I am saying you have not tried to empathize enough. I can understand the concepts of homophobia enough to know that I do not have the luxury of worrying about the homophobe’ s fealings over the LBGT victim. I know that I cannot use my naivette as a defense when I fail to support the rights of the downtrodden over the feelings of their oppressors.

  12. Chuck,

    I think we have a fundamental theological disagreement on the issue of forgiveness and atonement, and that is not only fine, it is wonderful. For myself, I trace back to the times when I have been the racial minority… when as a child I was beaten up on a regular basis for the color of my skin. When no one in school wanted to be my friend because my skin color was different. I remember teachers punishing me because I was the “other”… so I may emphasize more than you might think.

    And I’m of mixed racial heritage myself (white and Native American), with a wife who is Asian American and first generation… so I might emphasize more than you might think. But I will be the first to admit that only you can speak to your experience, and only I can speak to mine. It is in coming together and sharing those expeirencies that we grow closer to each other… and so I thank you for continuing with me on this.

    That being said, I think we are circling around a core difference in our view of forgiveness or atonement. I do not believe we forgive others and recognize their inherent worth and dignity because it is good for them. In fact, in choosing whether or not to forgive someone who has wronged you and seeing their inherent worth and dignity really has nothing to do with them… and everything to do with you.

    Forgiveness is inherently a selfish act. I choose to forgive those Hawaiian children who beat me up regularly for the first year I lived in Hawaii, I choose to see that they were just children reacting within their cultural norm not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because I need to forgive them to be a whole human being. If I did not, then the anger and hatred I felt as a child would continue to fester in me, affecting my life in countless ways.

    That does not mean I have forgotten… nor does it mean that I do not speak out now about the cultural contexts that kept getting me beat up. What it means is that I have found, through forgiveness and recognition of their inherent worth and dignity, that I am able to move forward as a more full and authentic human being.

    From this view of forgiveness, it does not matter whether the Jappanese Emperor deserves to be forgiven… what matters is that the Korean people need to forgive in order to move foward and be healthy (to use your example). The same is true of all of us. Once again, that does not mean we forget… that does not mean we stop working to change the culture. I think that when we work for justice after we have learned to forgive, we are far, far more effective.

    What it means to me is that forgiveness is an internal act that we take on for selfish reasons… because it is much better for us to forgive. We need to forgive to be healthy. We recognize the inherent worth and dignity of those who have wronged us because that is the only way to truely affirm our own.

    As I said, you may call that naive (even though the bruises of my childhood might say otherwise), but it is fundamental for me. We forgive not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we inherently need to forgive to be whole.

    Once again, I thank you for the engagement on this. You have pushed me a little further in my thinking, and though I dont expect us to agree, that is the beauty of coming together on these tough issues.

    Yours in Faith,


  13. David, my friend:

    Taking that into account then I must say your being naive is even more alarming.

    As always I too enjoy our engagements. And considering the love fest of our discussion on being liberal its about time we disagee.

    You are right that we could stand side by side and compare stories of oppression all night. We would still both be right and wrong.

    But if you so truly understand, and you are so easily identifiably other (because there is a difference between what a white latino, a dark latino and a black man will face when caught with a hot white girl in a Mississipi town on a Friday night) , then my friend I your position is foolhardy.

    I am not saying that Republicans are worhtless, but the group has not made a real effort to totally part from its white power racist sub-ideology. When that happens, when it is more than lipservice, then I would heartily agree with you.

    In terms of the worth of forgiveness? I support forgiving, when the oppressor has forsworn their act. However, my friends too many women do not make it to the abuse shelters because they forgave too early. Too many Jews died in germany because they trusted the bigots who despised them.

    There is a difference between forgiving and being a pawn.

  14. Chuck,

    Forgiving does not negate the need to still do the work… forgiving does not mean you do not have to act in the world. The abused woman can choose to internally forgive her husband, but that does not mean she can stay in the abusive situation.

    I know, the issue of forgiving and forgetting have long been tied together in a way they should not be. For many they have come to mean the same thing, but they never, never do. I dont think you can ever forgive if you have a practice of forgetting. Forgiving is internal… and I do believe that you are better at doing the work (getting out of the abusive situation, in your example) when you are able to internally forgive. In my experience, what keeps many abused women with their abuser is that they blame themselves… they transfer the guilt from the abuser to themselves (or sometimes to a child or a third party), thereby not forgiving at all, just transfering.

    I also freely and openly admit that I am not recognized as “other” in modern American society (at least until I open my mouth and start talking about my faith) the way someone of non-white skin color is. I know that white priveledge exists, and it is about perception not reality. That is why we each have to speak from our experience, and listen deeply to each other.

    I think that truth, as far as it can ever be determined, lies somewhere in between the two positions we are each outlining… and such is as it is with all truth. I find I often need others to pull me out of my rather trusting view of the universe… a role my wife excells at. Thank you for pulling me…

    Yours in Faith,


  15. Although Keith can be funny, the high levels of smugness on his show turned me off pretty quick. Anyhow, excellent post. This sort of talk is as scary as anything on Fox. Keith is for the Left what Rush is for the Right. Plenty of hate to go around. Is everyone happy?

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