Sep 26, 2006

Michelle Malkin's New Angle.

I just found this while trying to get caught up on the Clinton interview that is apparently big news. So I end up first seeing that Ann Coulter called Clinton gay at some point, which was mildly amusing, and right down the track from Coulter, trying desperately to cash in on her cache, I find Michelle Malkin once again.

I have to admit, I was once quite upset with Malkin for her commentary, but as I started to listen to it more closely, I realized that she really doesn't have strong analytical skills, and fits more in the vein of smear journalists from the past than a legitimate conservative threat. I think of Dinesh D'Souza as more of a threat, because his arguments have been reaching a more elite base, and have the potential, at least, to affect people of influence. Malkin feels more like a pop culture diva riding out her novelty as a neo-con, but not really bringing anything new to the table. Basically, she's a journalist who gets more play because Fox News picked her up as a political analyst.

Though this segment of Hardball made the rounds when the John Kerry swiftboat attacks were causing waves in the presidential campaign of 2004, I wasn't particularly pleased with it. It felt like Chris Mathews was beating up on a woman, and a woman of color at that, and it seemed quite unfair, and almost violent. I was offended for Malkin, even though what she was saying seemed off base. If she were a white man, she would at least have been given the respect to finish a few sentences before being proclaimed ridiculous. I don't know - I don't watch Hardball, but that was my feeling, and with whatever animus I feel towards Malkin (she's taken aim at quite a few folks that I know), I couldn't cheer that display on.

However, I just found out that she has some new venture to "balance" the video clips that are out there with her bugging out on the O'Reilly Factor, or wherever else. And I found this particular post, from last week, to be quite interesting. She's positing that liberals have hurled all kinds of race-based insults her way, and in the direction of other conservatives of color (cheers, Michelle, for moving forward in your lingo). She is asserting victim status (something that she's done before, but never to this degree) to call out the liberal establishment as racist and uniquely bigoted. It's interesting - because I feel that she has definitely gone through some image consulting - she's more confident, less obviously crazy, and possibly a better messenger for the "Democrats are biased" line than a lot of other folks in the GOP.

But I guess I would say that she should be more of a purist. After all - the Dems and the GOP aren't very far apart from one another, and it would be pretty hard to say that the Republicans really have a better image than the Dems in this issue. They just have Karl Rove, who's a bit smarter and ballsier in his ability to put together smear campaigns. But the point is - they both suck at true integration of their parties, and there's a lot of bias that remains just under the surface (if it even stays that far under, right Mr. Allen?). The GOP are well-served by the round of visible, strong candidates like Steele in MD and Blackwell in OH. They are definitely starting to show that the party isn't 100% monochromatic. But I guess my interest in her points lies in the question of whether there will ever be a point at which the Dems start to look at themselves and realize that they have to change as well. That they can't continue to just play business as usual, taking the default votes of communities of color and immigrant communities as the lesser (by little) of two evils, while just playing lip service to our real issues until their backs are against the wall and something has to be compromised in the chamber of white men (with some women and minorities thrown in for the good ol' PC/media thing) called Congress.

While the fact that politicians of color often suffer from the exaggerated expectations of co-ethnics who hope they can make something change for their communities is often spoken about (releasing those politicians from any responsibility and letting them just go with the machine and focus on building their individual careers), what about white men protecting their own? It doesn't matter whether they are Dems or Repubs... they have another representation beyond their states, their districts, and their corporate backers: they have a race that looks to them as the great hope, the circled wagons on yonder prairie trail, because the wild, wild west is coming back to get them. And while the natives regain their strength, the new pioneers are not white. But wherein lies the power, therein lies the future. And there's not been any significant, nor proportional shift in power from the white majority to the other peoples of America.

So while I could talk about Malkin's new attitude, new look, and new approach (well - new to me), I'm just curious about how we're going to get anywhere in this place as peoples who love elements of this nation, but realize that its been built in blood, and that its entire foundation depends on a particular worldview: militarism, and know-nothingness. There is no party of ideas anymore. And while Jefferson and his brethren were slave-owners, aristocrats, and white men, they were also thinkers who battled in great ideas that mature even now, more than 200 years after they explored them in the founding of this system. Our great thinkers now remain entrenched in garrisons that become more distant and more removed with each passing year... the ivory towers and halls of the academy. Our intellectuals and rebels would leave the United States as ex-patriates, writing, thinking, and living a different American reality overseas. But now - they distance themselves in theory, or in esoteric research that isn't current or relevant.

Does Malkin have a point with her "only comes from the left" angle? Well, the right doesn't care about left-leaning people of color - it's also just assumed that's where we'll all be until very recently. Plus, the outspoken folks of color in either party are countable on one hand, and most folks who are conservative don't want to be known for their group/race/ethnic affiliations because they believe in the Horatio Algers myth of the self-made man, and in individual identity at the cost of group identity. Hey - hurling the "sell-out" thing at Malkin is easy. Look, I don't know her personal story, but she's obviously trying to make a living, and she's using the intersection of gender/race that she has as a marketing tool. She's benefiting from the novelty of race in her particular rhetoric niche, but as of tonight, her post about race-baiting had only 40 views, compared to 5,000 for the Hardball segment. So... she may have to think about podcasting (she may be doing that, too).

Michelle - I hope you find some peace somehow. You don't seem happy. Pinay sister (I think), we'd welcome you to the fold again, with a little work maybe you'd even have some pride in the rich history of resistance to authoritarianism and racism that people of color, of whom you seem to count yourself a member, have waged in this country for more than 500 years. Join us. We're more fun, and at least within the more hip circles of color, we won't exoticize you, either. But maybe you like that sort of thing.


saurav said...

Good post.

Part of the trouble with Malkin is that she doesn't just exploit her status as an Asian, 2nd gen immigrant, woman of color, but that she uses it specifically to get away with arguments that White men couldn't get away with. For example, her book trying to justify the imprisonment of Japanese people during WWII.

Rage said...

Thanks for reading. I don't know if white men can't get away with it, because there are still folks (even some who represent us in Congress) who say some pretty crazy things. But I definitely think that she gets more play because of what many people think is her unique position as woman of color, Asian American, etc, and perhaps folks try to assign more validity to her viewpoint: "she can't be racist, so listen to the arguments."

But with the increasing visible heterogeneity in our communities, her novelty is going to run out. I wonder if she's planning another career.