Friday, October 8, 2021

Recap: October 8, 2021


Charles Ernest Grassley.

Republican Senator from the state of Iowa.

He's 88-years-old, he's in his seventh term, four decades in the Senate. He is, in point of fact, the President Pro Tempore Emeritus of the United States Senate. 

You'd think he'd be old enough to know better.

"So I congratulate you and your people."

Well ain't that nice? 

Judge Lucy Koh is an American, born in Washington D.C. She's a graduate of Harvard Law. She was an attorney for the US Department of Justice, Special Assistant to the US Deputy Attorney General, and then an Assistant US Attorney for Central District of California. She then went into private practice representing major technology companies in patent and trade secrets before being appointed Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and then appointed by Barack Obama as US District District Court Judge. 

But all Grassley saw was an Asian woman. 

It's right there in his own words, "your people." 

Your people. 

You think he would have said that if Koh's ancestors had come from Western Europe? 

Somewhere right now, congressional staffers are patiently explaining that's it's not 1950 to Chuck Grassley and he's just shaking his head and saying, "I don't get it."

Of course when I said that on Twitter, well...

He's from a different generation where his comment was a compliment.


Tell me, which generation was it where "yer one of them 'good' minorities'" from an old white man in power wasn't condescendingly racist?

What context makes that okay? 

When this person says "put history in context" what they mean is whitewash it so they can pretend that doesn't exist.

But that's it, isn't? 

That's the goal. Erase that history. Pretend it doesn't exist, until it doesn't.

The history of racism in America is painful. 

It's shameful. It's embarrassing. 

It should make all Americans of conscience feel bad. 

It should make them want to be better. 

That's the whole point of history, to learn from our mistakes, to learn from the atrocities of the past, and therefor do better in the future. 

Since the hysteria over Critical Race Theory began a few months back, I've watched my feeds for examples of the sort of unconscious and embedded bias CRT attempts to educate people about. Grassley's comment above is an obvious and egregious example. Of course he's not the only member of Congress, my erstwhile boneheaded dinosaur of a Congressman Don Young comes to mind. As does Donald Trump. 

But it's not just members of government.

Here's an example from my Twitter timeline yesterday.

I know this person thinks she's being woke and aware and whatever word we want to use, but look at that. Look at the embedded unconscious bias. What if people in "poor" countries don't die from malaria, how will we feed them all? 

She'd likely be aghast if I'd said: We should restrict medical care to only those people who can prove they are productive members of society or who are rich enough not to be a burden on the rest of us if they live a long time. 

But she is essentially saying the same thing, only couched in a manner of concern for some imagined  future "humanitarian crisis" in "these very poor areas."

Very poor areas that just happen to be inhabited primarily by people of color.

It's not a generational thing.

It's a perpetuation of bias and racism in our thinking from one generation to the next. 

If Americans are ashamed of their past, then they need to face it, change the present, and create a nation future generations can be proud of. 


  1. I like to think Grassley is still in there because we ran a three-legged dog against him last time instead of an actual progressive, but the fact is that my home state is full of folks who just love being terrified by the right-wing lie machine.

    1. It's definitely not the Iowa I grew up in.

    2. I don't believe these people are ashamed. If they were they'd be acknowledging shameful behavior. They want to continue to act this way and not be called what they are. Racist, misogynistic, white is right assholes.

  2. Well said! I have often heard Bill Maher remark on cancel culture as not understanding change over time. In a lot of cases, I would agree, as long as they have not caused immense pain, damage and have learned along the way. This is not one of those cases. He’s STILL doing it! I am not going to apologize for stubborn old white men. They are reaping what they sowed.

    1. "Well said! I have often heard Bill Maher remark on cancel culture as not understanding change over time. "

      Another way to put it:

      It's people who were forced to eat sh*t sandwiches and praise the cook refusing.

  3. ALWAYS the not needed stereotyping, *branding and labeling* of others.
    ALWAYS ! ��

    Sixty plus years ago, an African American teacher discussing sociology, made a statement that rang in my ears and never left me.
    "If anyone comes up to you and tells you;

    Thank you Dr. Willis ! As a Jew, it served me well over the decades !! ��

  4. Thank you for another great column, and the continuing education too.

  5. What white people never want to hear.

    Your intent and perception are NOT enough.

    Whatever you think you are saying if the the person or persons you are saying it to or about say "I find that offensive" there is one thing you should do immediately.

    Shut the FUCK up and listen.
    Your mouth got you into this. Take it offline, switch to ears.

  6. Please do keep rubbing their figurative noses in this shit, it may finally trickle through their consciousness that it is the wrong thing to believe. At least they may go crawl back under their rock.

  7. Um... Amen? No, better is "what you said!"

  8. 'Death Panels' Grassley and that woman who believes a malaria vaccine is a bad thing have a lot in common. He did everything he possible could to spread fear and lies about the ACA and she somehow thinks people suffering and dying from malaria is a good thing. WTAF! They're so entrenched in their racism they will never change.Thank you, Jim.

  9. I think if Koh's ancestors were Jews from Western Europe, Grassley would say "your people" also. He seems like that kind of guy.


    1. It doesn't matter what type of other the other is. Grassley sees two groups of people, "us" and "the other".

  10. 😳😳😳😳 "We need to ensure these people get born by denying them access to birth control and abortion services, so that they can die from malaria instead of starvation."🤔🙄 call me a radical socialist if you must but That is INSANE!

  11. As you have so often said (pardon my paraphrasing if I don't get it exactly right), if you want a better world, be a better person. Honestly it is hard to believe someone actually said that. But I saw it too.

  12. As I read your words above I was like, spot on as always Jim. But when I hit the two Posts or tweets or what ever all I could do is sit here with my mouth open, aghast that someone in 2021 not only said these words, but WROTE them for people every where to read. What planet are these people from????? Ever since tRump was elected and preceded to take this country back to the 1950's mentality I have not been proud to say I am American. Now, I am ashamed of it.

    1. EXACTLY! That was what blew my gaskets COMPLETELY. Like, gotDAMN, say the quiet part out loud much, bigots???

      The other night, after a bout of MSNBC, I called my husband and told him: Come early 2024, we're getting our passports. We might not need them, but we're getting them...just in case.

      We're a working-class multiracial couple in our early 50's living in Chicago. This is not the adulthood EITHER of us expected to be living, because this is not the country it was when we were kids. And the direction it's going is, for people like us--people who are getting older, not as healthy as some, not white or conservative or male or wealthy(in fact,reasonably "unfinancial" as they called it in the olden days)--it's the wrong direction, and gets wronger every day.

      We did the right things (mostly--though it took us a while to start) and we're better off than so many--but both of us, albeit for different reasons, are terrified of getting old in this America.

  13. This country, and the world with it, is going to hell in a very, very large basket, despite all the good intentions of all us smart, caring and selfless folk. May some deity have mercy on our benighted souls.

  14. Great piece! Thank you for your efforts to keep us informed.

  15. The best we can due is keep pointing out the racists. In many cases it won't change them but it will let others know that we will no longer turn a blind eye to racists. You don't want to be identified as a racist? Then don't do or say racist things.

    But then again, you can't change stupid.

  16. For willingly obtuse racism the reaction to the general English public to Jonathan Swift's "proposal" was historic! Most thought it was an idea to be considered, but felt that the social criticism of cannibalism was too difficult! For those who have not read it,
    A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, commonly referred to as A Modest Proposal, is a Juvenalian satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Wikipedia
    Originally published: 1729

  17. Well said! Too true! Thanks once again, Jim👏

  18. Where I grew up, Grassley's so called complement is called racism with a smile.

    1. I recall my grandmother calling it that as well. (Which was interesting, as my grandfather was a quiet but not at all ashamed, bigot. He almost had a conniption when the first Black family to move to our area moved into a house kitty-corner from him. Their daughters, and a boy who'd been adopted as a baby, were literally the *only* Black kids (no Hispanic kids, either) in the entire school (~1988, with ~120 students per grade).

      My brother (17 years my junior) said the school is far more blended now, with Hispanic and Black students still the minority but not to that extreme. I wonder about it now...I know they were both well-liked and had many friends as they grew up, and I never heard any racial remarks about them from other kids. But knowing what I do of the community then - an all-white, all-Lutheran, small town in very rural Minnesota in the 80s and 90s - I'm certain that they encountered both explicitly and implicit bigotry...

  19. Remember the classic short story "Nightfall" by Issac Asimov?

    You know, the one about the alien race who, when faced with an incomprehensible shift in their perception of reality, proceed to go batshit fucking insane and burn down their entire civilization. Good thing that's fiction...

    On a plus note, "Leviathan Falls" releases Nov 16! Best SF series ever! However, these days I've been feeling the authors may be a bit too optimistic about our future...

  20. It has taken me years to undo all the subconscious racism I was taught in the white Christian school I attended in my first years and even today I sometimes still am learning. But I continue to work at that because I want to be a better person. As should we all strive to be.

  21. Brilliant! A superb book on how this works in the US is “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson.

  22. Grassley: old and in the way. Goddammit, how could he not know that?

  23. Four things come to mind from your essay.

    1. Just because we help make Mary feel good about herself doesn't automatically take anything from John to make him no longer feel good about himself. It's not a zero sum game. BOTH children can feel good about themselves.

    2. People lost their freeking minds when Bill Gates said that with vaccination, people in disadvantaged countries would no longer feel pressured to have lots of children because of the high child mortality rates.

    3. An effective malaria vaccine is fantastic! What's the downside to something to prevent suffering and death? Unless, of course you make antimalarials.

    4. Chuck Grassley doesn't get it because he doesn't want to get it. Older people can learn and embrace new ideas. If he CANNOT then there's something wrong with his brain and he should retire to where he can yell at kids on his lawn.

    1. Well, yell at the pidgins in his case. I'd wager most parents have told their kids to stay away, in case such virulent idiocy is contagious.

  24. Thank you for publishing this. One of Grassley's several afflictions is his refusal to retire and that affliction has been suffered for too long across parties. When Strom Thurmond retired at the age of 99, the JUNIOR senator from his state, Fritz Hollings, was 80. many more living examples of this nonsense. Grassley is using and is being used - the younger awfuls can sit back and enjoy his comment without being its author. blech

    1. THIS. You can't fly an airliner if over 60, but you can be the 435 who run the country.

  25. Thank you Jim. I wish we could boot the old goat out on principle.

  26. Trying to square this “the American people must be the ones to take control” attitude with “let the elderly sit and stare at Facebook” post

    Is staring at Facebook not learning the sort of American citizen we want to empower?

    Is that effort stoking political change?

    A brand is not a technology and an American who wants to be seen and respected must not stay hidden in their computer room.

    That effort is what enables Grassley's of the world, as everyone else is too busy digging at their belly button to confront him


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