In Which I Am a Victim-Blaming Bitch

Dear Internet,

Pursuant to yesterday’s post at Jezebel, I feel I should clarify a few things.

1) If you are not an Oscar-winning actress or similarly well-known personage, I was not talking about you. I understand that if you don’t routinely get media inquiries about your personal life, you probably do not have people in your employ whose job is to keep the public from thinking poorly of you. This means that no one, least of all me, will ever expect you to issue a public statement regarding the actions of your douchebag partner.

2) If you are concerned that I would judge you by the actions of your douchebag partner, or that I do not understand how easy it is to be fooled by someone you love, please see the passage beginning with the fourth sentence of the goddamned post, which reads:

Don’t get me wrong: I am in no way suggesting that a wife is responsible for her husband’s behavior. I’m not even saying Bullock must have known; just as it’s possible for women not to realize their husbands are cheating or married to other people or, say, responsible for multiple murders, it’s surely possible to miss the signs that your partner is, if not an active neo-Nazi, the kind of twisted asswipe who finds humor in taking photos that suggest he is.

3) If you are concerned that I am unfairly judging Sandra Bullock herself, please revisit the post, paying special attention to the following lines:

  • “all anyone can do is speculate”
  • “all of the information we have comes from questionable sources”
  • “I have absolutely no idea what she knew and when she knew it, and no way of finding out”
  • “I like Sandra Bullock”
  • “I’m not saying we should be accusing Bullock, or assuming anything just yet”
  • “all I know for sure is that I don’t know the woman at all”

Perhaps that sort of close reading will make it easier to understand that I have not, in fact, decided that Sandra Bullock is a Bad Person. I have not, in fact, decided anything about Sandra Bullock as a person. What I have done is call attention to the following points:

  • When you are married to someone who, at the very least, thinks posing for a picture like that is funny, it may be unreasonable for people to presume you share his views, but it is perfectly reasonable for those who are interested in your life to ask you things like, “Um, do you think it’s funny too? And were you aware that he did? Hypothetically speaking, if your husband were shown to be an aficionado of Nazi culture, would you consider that a dealbreaker, y/n?”
  • When you are a very famous actor, fucking everyone is interested in your life. (This is why you have people to deal with your public image while you deal with your private life. See point 1 above.)
  • It is customary for very famous people who are at risk of being tarred with someone else’s douchebag brush to issue statements denouncing the douchebag in question. Ergo, it is curious that there was no immediate move from Bullock’s camp to distance her from a man who, at the very least, thinks posing for a picture like that is funny.
  • It is also customary for the media to talk all sorts of shit about celebrities who might plausibly be tarred with someone else’s douchebag brush. Ergo, it is also curious that so few people seem to even be idly wondering whether Bullock was aware of the breadth and depth of her husband’s douchebaggery.

4) At the end of the day, I am really not all that interested in what kind of person Sandra Bullock is, and I certainly do not feel she owes me or the public a damned thing. But I am very interested in how the cultural conversation about a photo like this goes:

All too predictably, loads of people (in Jez comments and elsewhere) are saying shit like, “It’s just one picture” and “We don’t know the context” and “It was obviously just a joke.” To which I would respond:

  • How many pictures like that would you need to see to be appalled?
  • What context would make it okay?
  • What on earth makes it funny?

If all you mean is that it would be unfair and premature to conclude from this photo that Jesse James personally wants to commit genocide, I’ll grant you that. But I am entirely comfortable concluding from this one photo — let alone other recent revelations — that Jesse James is an epic fucking douche, and that racism is a noteworthy element of his douchiness.

That, of course, is what some people get so upset about. Heaven forbid we jump to the conclusion that someone captured on film doing a “humorous” Hitler impression perhaps has some problematic views about race. We’d better wait until we have the whole story before we go off half-cocked and say things we might regret! I mean, for all we know, he might have just been…

What? What would make that picture okay?

Hint: Nothing.

For fuck’s sake, what does a white person have to do around here before a critical mass of other white people are willing to say, “Yep, that’s some racist bullshit”? More than use Nazi imagery for laffs, apparently. And that, more than anything, is why it troubles me that Bullock didn’t immediately issue a statement, and so few people even seem willing to question whether she was aware that her husband held the sort of views that, at the very least, made him think that photo was funny — let alone whether she holds similar views. Because giving her the pure and unfettered benefit of the doubt at this point is only a milder version of making excuses for him. It’s all based on the same premise: that being called “racist” — or even questioned about your association with someone who, say, uses Nazi imagery for laffs — is such an unbelievably painful thing to endure, we must never, ever imply such a thing without hard evidence that the person in question deserves it.

Hard evidence like… well, something more than one photo taken out of context that was only meant to be a joke, surely. And if that’s not admissible, then merely being married to someone who would take that one photo is, without a doubt, utterly meaningless — so it would be tasteless and cruel even to ask the spouse, “Dude, what the fuck? Did you know about this?” In fact, the consequences of accusing a nice white person of racism, falsely or not, are so unspeakably terrible — why, some people might think poorly of her! — it would probably be better if we never used the word “racist” at all, except with regard to people who do, in fact, personally want to commit genocide. Just to be on the safe side.

And if that means we can never really confront racism when we see it, well… that’s unfortunate. But come on. We don’t want to make people uncomfortable. White people, I mean. I understand that racism itself tends to have damaging effects on everyone else, but since I’ve never personally experienced it, I can only speak as a white woman — and let me tell you, being told that something you’ve done as a well-intentioned, liberal white person was, in fact, racist? AWKWARD! So before you go trying to end oppression, you should probably take that into consideration, okay?

Look, I truly don’t have an opinion on what’s in Sandra Bullock’s heart. But I have an opinion on that photo: Appalling and inexcusable. And an opinion on Jesse James: Racist fuckwit. And an opinion on attempts to somehow justify that photo and steer the conversation away from words like “racism” and “anti-Semitism” and “white supremacy” at all costs: Bullshit. And all of that brought me to the opinion that if Bullock wants to keep the stink off her, she’d best issue a statement denouncing her husband’s racist behavior in no uncertain terms. As fast as possible. Which means, basically, yesterday.

That’s what I was talking about. Not judging her or blaming her or making presumptions about her, but expecting her, as a public figure, to take this seriously. Because that picture, despite what James’ defenders say, is fucking serious. And while it’s very possible for people to remain ignorant of a lot of things within a long-term relationship, it is also, exactly as I said yesterday, reasonable to wonder, and to ask, whether someone shares or condones or willfully ignores her partner’s odious views.

But we’re not supposed to wonder about Bullock. Because she seems like such a nice person, and she’s publicly said non-racist things, and she’s going through so much, sure. But also because it is considered rude and vaguely scandalous to not give an apparently nice white person the extreme benefit of the doubt where any suggestion of racism is concerned. And that’s bullshit. I don’t know one way or another what she thinks of that photo, but for those of us who have never met the woman, in the absence of a public comment there is no more reason to assume she deplores it than there is to assume she thinks it’s hilarious. So it’s really disturbing — albeit not unexpected — that so many people seem to think even posing the question is a vicious assault on her character. Jesse James does a Nazi salute with one hand and a Hitler mustache with the other, and people scramble to explain why we shouldn’t assume it means anything, you know, negative. But ask what his wife thinks about that, and why — for the sake of her own public image, if nothing else — she hasn’t commented (via a publicist, so it’s not like she has to be articulate in the midst of heartbreak and humiliation)? Tasteless! Insulting! Victim-blaming! Why, I never!

That’s pretty fucked up, folks. It really is.

Love,

Kate

304 thoughts on “In Which I Am a Victim-Blaming Bitch

  1. I’m kind of uncomfortable with the fact that you favor the term “racist” to describe Nazism. I mean, obviously the Nazis were racist, and they were also ableist, and a whole mess of other things, but I think that they were first and foremost anti-semitic. I feel like, given your anger about this, the absence of the Nazis largest victim group is odd. You don’t refer to Jews once.

    So, when you write stuff like:

    “For fuck’s sake, what does a white person have to do around here before a critical mass of other white people are willing to say, “Yep, that’s some racist bullshit”? More than use Nazi imagery for laffs, apparently.”

    My questions are: Are Jews not white people, then? Is “Jew” a race? Is race not just a social construct?

  2. Yes! That’s exactly what I was thinking as I read the comments to your Jezebel post. Except my thoughts weren’t so articulate… more along the lines of, “WTF people???”

  3. I don’t think your post at Jezebel was victim blaming, and I think people who think that have reading comprehension issues.

    I do have one minor quibble and that is I definitely think it is possible to own or collect Nazi artifacts without actually being a Nazi or even kind of agreeing with what Nazi’s say. (I am not speculating as to whether this is true or false about the obvious shitbag pictured above, just saying this generally.)

    The Nazi party, and that time in Germany represents what happens when one crazy evil fuck takes over a whole empire and starts doing crazy evil shit with it. As students we learn about it and as a society we remember it, not because we agree with it, but precisely because we DO NOT. We need to remember it, and understand it, so we can try to prevent anything even remotely kindof similar to ever happening again.

    And I think SOME people who collect Nazi artifacts may do it for precisely this reason, to remember that people are capable of horrible things if they are given too much power. SOME people may also collect it because the Nazi culture managed to be really interesting while also being completely evil, and they are interested in studying its dynamics, not because they agree, but possibly for the same reason people like watching TV shows about serial killers.

    Hell, maybe some people just collect it because some day it will be worth money to someone else. (See also, all the sports memorabilia for teams my Dad hates in his basement, to someday be sold, for a profit.)

    I’m just trying to say that Owning a symbol does not necessarily indicate agreement with the aforementioned symbol. I know an atheist who collects crucifixes, people are weird.

    (The obvious reverse is that it absolutely CAN indicate agreement. But again, it is speculation. I would say the photo above at the very least indicates that he does not treat the Holocaust or artifacts of it with the respect that the victims deserve.)

  4. You really hit the nail on the head with this. I think you called a bunch of us out.

    I had the “pleasure” of living with a bunch of /b/tards, their terminology, not mine, for a few years and that kind of inappropriate racist humor is a staple of the site that they browsed. However, while they laughed at the jokes, none of their other actions in any sphere of life could be called racist.

    I think that’s what the Jezebel commenters were getting at.

    I personally have laughed at fucked up jokes, in part because of their fucked-upness, and now I’m feeling pretty ashamed of myself.

    Thanks for reminding me that racism is racism is racism, despite what other cultural influences say.

  5. @shinobi42 – I totally get where you’re coming from, and was going to try to say something similar. My husband’s family has a few things which were brought back as “spoils of war” from relatives who served with the Allies in WWII, but I will say they/we never DISPLAY these items in case it appears disrespectful or anti-semetic.

    I can’t imagine on what planet that photo is supposed to be funny, and I wondered why SB hasn’t spoken up, too.

  6. My husband’s family has a few things which were brought back as “spoils of war” from relatives who served with the Allies in WWII, but I will say they/we never DISPLAY these items in case it appears disrespectful or anti-semetic.

    What gets me is that, according to that great oracle Wikipedia, Bullock’s family is from Nuremberg. Nuremberg! That Nuremberg! So you’d think that she and her husband would have already had the “Hey, what’s with all this Nazi memorabilia” conversation.

    As I often do, on this general issue I defer to Jay Smooth. It’s possible that Bullock (or, I suppose, even James) is not racist in her heart of hearts. But I don’t really give a shit about her heart of hearts. When your husband gets caught doing Funny Hitler, you denounce that shit, stat, because he did a racist thing, no matter what you thought was in his heart.

  7. Fair point about memorabilia in general, and I probably should have used a different word –because what I didn’t say was that the (Enquirer) article that talks about it specifically cites like, a surfboard with a picture of Hitler on it, not just historical artifacts. Add that to his use of the hat in that photo, and I’m thinking it doesn’t seem like he’s just a collector.

  8. We don’t and can’t know what the dynamic of that relationship was. They have a right to their privacy and Sandra is the only one who gets to decide if and when she makes a statement about the photo.

    Just because she has the right not to speak out about the public racism of her partner, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. People have the right to say or not say stupid shit, but that right doesn’t protect them from the consequences. And I think that not only do we have the right to ask questions, we have the responsibility to, given the context Kate is describing where racism in this culture goes largely un-called-out because accusing a well-meaning white person of racism would be just too horrible. Sandy doesn’t have to answer, but it’s not victim-blaming to say that not doing so is going to have consequences for her public image.

    And it is not victim-blaming to call out the TABLOIDS for exempting Sandy from their usual disregard for facts or personal privacy, which is the main point I took away from the original article.

  9. @shinobi42

    I just can’t see how photos of people giving a Nazi salute in Nazi costume (OK… a hat and makeshift ‘stache) is at all similar to someone collecting WWII artifacts. And even giving the but-it’s-history benefit of the doubt, I would run far far away from someone with a collection of Nazi memorabilia. As I would from someone collecting KKK artifacts. It’s not the same as sports items or stamps or the countless other things people collect. Maybe that’s unfair of me, but I just can’t conjure up a reasonably benign motive for keeping symbols of such horror around.

    But then I’d also have big red flags popping up if someone seemed more-than-casually interested in serial killers, as well. Enjoying a few books or movies is totally different than, say, collecting actual souvenirs from murders.

  10. Many Jezebel commenters are, um, loyal to their beloved celebrities to the point of utter blindness. Criticizing Sandra Bullock (or Lady Gaga, or Jennifer Aniston) is like setting fire to their whole belief systems or something.

  11. I am so very glad you’re back. And I would buy you and Al lunch, except that I’m in the wrong city and I brought my lunch today.

  12. Also, re: “When you are a very famous actor, fucking everyone is interested in your life.”

    I can’t tell you how many times I read that as “When you are a very famous actor, fucking everyone is an interest in your life,” and I was puzzled.

  13. @Kate: I’m thinking it doesn’t seem like he’s just a collector.

    Yeah, evidence would seem to point to him being a full-metal, no holds barred, out-and-out dope of utterly epic proportions. Color me one of those who is just baffled by the lack of any sort of statement. How one wouldn’t set a landspeed record firing off a public statement disavowing his shit is beyond me. I get that most likely, Sandy B’s getting absolutely hammered with revelation after revelation of his true nature and is trying to sort out some serious crap, but when a picture of someone (who, ostensibly, is in your innermost circle of megatrust) striking a racist pose turns up? It’s time to emerge from the cone of silence for a moment to say “yeah, we’re definitely not on the same team here”.

  14. Also also, in case it is not obvious, I was being really sarcastic about The Bright Side. I have some opinions about the Nice White Lady movie genre, and they are not particularly positive.

  15. My questions are: Are Jews not white people, then? Is “Jew” a race? Is race not just a social construct?

    These questions are so, so far beyond the scope of this post that I don’t know what to say. Except, I guess: not all Jews are white, who counts as “white” in what country has changed drastically over time, Nazis were trying to create a master race and thus their anti-Semitism is also a form of racism, and all this is true because race is a social construct, not in spite of it.

    I don’t think that any of this really detracts from the point of the post, which is that a Nice White Lady being called [racist/anti-Semitic] is supposedly so much worse than thinking Hitler is hilarious.

  16. Honestly…whatever the reasons behind collecting Nazi stuff, however deep and meaningful, I still find it a bit creepy. I knew someone who collected it “purely from a historical standpoint”, and it was still odd to me. I once said to him (he was single – surprise, surprise) to be aware that if he ever asked a woman round for coffee, don’t be surprised if when she excuses herself to go to the bathroom, she actually climbs out the window and runs like an Olympian with her shoes on fire. He was baffled by this, and couldnt see why it might freak most women out completely.

  17. @Alexandra

    I think the term racist is appropriate for Nazism. Especially at the time of the Third Reich, Jews were not considered “white” (and in fact were only considered so after WWII). Nazis extended their genocidal policies to Gypsies/Roma, Poles, etc based on ideas of race as well. Many European ethnicities that today are lumped under the “white” racial category were at one time excluded from it (by cultural standards as well as immigration policies). Anti-semitism can be considered a subcategory of racism as it is still a way of assigning inferiority based on superficial biological differences and their conflation with cultural differences.

  18. I personally believe in separating douchey action from questioning someone’s core beliefs. Yes, it’s douchey and shitty to take a picture making light of anything involving Hitler. But it’s possible he was drunk or just plain old not thinking about the deeper meaning of what he was doing. We’ve all done stupid shit, maybe just not this epically stupid or this publicly epically stupid.

    But I refuse to jump on the bandwagon of calling someone “racist.” Maybe it’s because I once was falsely accused of being racist. I was helping an exceptionally annoying and needy white customer in the store I was working at and a black woman was unable to get my attention right away (and apparently I was a little curt once she got me because the other person had so frazzled me), so instead of thinking, “she’s busy” or “man, that woman is being needy and annoying” this woman immediately went “she’s not helping me because I’m black.” And, no, she didn’t confront ME about it, she waited until the next day and emailed my boss. And instead of saying, “this girl took a long time to help me” or “she seemed short-tempered” she blamed racism. I should mention that this was a job I’d had for about a week. If I’d had a less understanding and nice boss I could have lost my job over someone else’s conclusion-jumping. Therefore I won’t make that leap.

  19. I’m glad you’re stating the obvious (someone needs to!) that Jesse James is racist, but “fuckwit”? It’s just a more fiery version of “halfwit,” which should be removed from progressive discourse along with “retard”/”fucktard” IMO.

  20. Kate,

    Thanks for this excellent piece. When I read your Jezebel post yesterday, I found myself squinting at the screen a bunch of times because I wasn’t sure I agreed. So I read it again because, well, you wrote it and I always think you’re right. I think I’m pretty damn smart but you can yank back the curtain to reveal even truthier truth and I get really excited about that. In the end I decided I was still working my way towards your position on this one… I was challenging myself to consider that my reluctance to expect a press release “out by tomorrow” had more to do with my white privilege than with the bricks of logic I had erected to justify her privacy. So good on you, I decided, and I felt reassured that you are still brilliant.

    And this post reaffirms it, it is very persuasive. The part I found most persuasive? The bit about this Nazi bullshit being SERIOUS. Yes, it is. So I think you’re right on all counts.

    What was the sticking point for me before? The issue of privacy. Remember when Tiger Woods crashed his car and everyone was demanding a press release? I could not understand that. I got why it matter to his sponsors, and hence his professional career, yada yada price of fame and all that. What I didn’t get was why he owed* any of us, the wild-eyed gossip fiends, anything at all. And I still don’t think he does, because he is just a cheating weasel. He only owed his wife something.

    *Yes, I’m aware of the load this word carries.

    However, SB is in the position of being an ignorer of genocidal propaganda. And the super SERIOUS and deeply complex cultural baggage that goes along with tolerating (or advocating?!) white power crap. So, yeah. She does owe “us” (the world) some kind of statement, some kind of really, really clear and definitive statement. Or else? Or else, well, we will connect the dots and decide she probably is some kind of icky racist by association. That’s how it works. I think it’s called ethics. Maybe not fair that in addition to having to deal with the (public!) revelation that her husband sleeps around, she is now required—in order to save her reputation—to face the world and condemn genocide. I guess it sucks to have to face the world right when you are having the worst week of your life, but the Holocaust sucked too.

    So anyway, Kate I think you are a genius, and I hope this comment gets published, because it is my first one. I just think you really parsed this complicated, nasty problem (what’s more complicated and nasty than racism in America?) exactly right.

    P.S. I guess I have one caveat. I’m willing to consider the reality that SB is wailing on a bathroom floor somewhere rending her garments, and consequently just not capable of a coherent conversation with a PR person. So days might pass in silence even if SB is a good, non-racist, anti-white power kind of person. I’d be willing to believe in her good nature so long as when she does make a statement it is very convincing. Which will require quite a lot the longer this goes on.

  21. Alexandra wrote: I’m kind of uncomfortable with the fact that you favor the term “racist” to describe Nazism.

    and SweetMachine responded with something lucid and helpful. I would like to ask whether it was inappropriate for Alexandra to have asked, in the first place, about this. Am I missing something – are we not able to account for the various forms of bigotry and intolerance of the Nazi party by name? Yes, SM, it’s only because of the social construct of race that this could have happened, and yes, the point of the post is spot on that it’s Not Okay to prioritize making a Nice White Lady comfortable over calling attention to something shocking and hateful. But the Jews were the most famous example of Nazi targets, and it felt very strange to read Kate’s post and only see one reference to anti-Semitism.

    Or am I just responding emotionally, as a Jew? :-) I mean, I get asked a LOT whether Judaism is a religion or a culture or a race or some combination, and it’s a conversation that’s difficult for me in part because it *is* related to racism, so I *think* I get the connection. And it’s a holiday right now, so I’m hyper aware of my religion. Pls advise.

  22. I must be living in a little bubble celeb-wise, because I didn’t know who Jesse James was. (I saw the name and wondered how Sandra Bullock ended up married to a Wild West train robber who’s been dead for 120 years or so.)

    And yeah, wow, there’s no way that could be interpreted as anything but racist/anti-Semitic and really impressively not funny.

    I’m with paintmonkey on finding Nazi memorabilia creepy too. As part of a collection of WWII memorabilia or war stuff in general, not so much, but a collection devoted to just Nazi stuff–creepy.

  23. In fact, the consequences of accusing a nice white person of racism, falsely or not, are so unspeakably terrible — why, some people might think poorly of her! — it would probably be better if we never used the word “racist” at all, except with regard to people who do, in fact, personally want to commit genocide. Just to be on the safe side.

    Reminds me a bit of this post over at Stuff White People Do (“Stuff White People Do: Describe Racism as ‘Political Incorrectness’):

    http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/2010/03/describe-racism-as-political.html

  24. Liza,

    “But it’s possible he was drunk or just plain old not thinking about the deeper meaning of what he was doing. We’ve all done stupid shit, maybe just not this epically stupid or this publicly epically stupid.”

    I’ve been fall-over-drunk, I’ve been stupid drunk, and during one particularly unhealthy summer, I’ve been black-out drunk. I have unadvisedly confessed romantic thoughts that I shouldn’t have while drunk, I’ve had sex I probably shouldn’t have while drunk, and I’ve engaged in highly unflattering dance moves while drunk.

    I’ve never made light of the genocide of over six million human beings while drunk. Not once.

  25. I would like to ask whether it was inappropriate for Alexandra to have asked, in the first place, about this. Am I missing something – are we not able to account for the various forms of bigotry and intolerance of the Nazi party by name?

    It’s not that it’s inappropriate for Alexandra to have asked, and I understand and appreciate the comments about calling things by their proper names. I’m not at all speaking for Kate here, btw — this is just my reaction as a mod, which is that the questions Alexandra asked are about a totally different conversation that is way, way bigger than we can do here and which many people have done much better and more effectively than we can. In other words, I think Alexandra has pose rhetorical questions which raise a good point, but which any attempts to answer seriously are going to lead to a gigantic threadjack.

    There’s a separate issue that in the US neo-Nazi groups are often associated with white supremacists (and James’ lover allegedly has white power tattoos), but that too is a discussion we’re not really qualified to moderate over here.

    I am just trying to head off a Nazi 101 conversation, basically, because we are not historians here!

  26. The “he was drunk!” excuse came up when Mel Gibson got into hot water, too, and it seemed just as beside-the-point then as it does now. No matter how drunk you are, you’re not going to refer to a woman as “sugartits” unless you already think of women in those terms. Same thing with the James photo, in my opinion. No matter how drunk he might have been, he wouldn’t make “humorous” Nazi gestures unless he already thought that the Nazis were pretty dang funny. And that’s appalling.

  27. She may be concerned with the legal implications of issuing such a statement, no matter how carefully worded it might be. A public denoucement might keep her from being tarred with the racism brush, but it might also have some concrete repercussions in what might be a very messy divorce indeed.

    Sure, if she were your girlfriend, I’d think it would be reasonable to ask her, “Did you KNOW about this? What do you think about it?” Her ex might get mad if he she called him a Nazi douchebag, and maybe he’d hassle her more over property agreements and custody, but he wouldn’t be able to do much else. However, if your girlfriend took out a newspaper ad announcing “My ex is a Nazi douchebag”, that might open the door for him to take legal action for libel/slander. Likewise, any public statement from her, by virtue of her very celebrity, would be viewed in a different light than an ordinary person’s conversation.

    Given that Bullock is reportedly interested in pursuing visitation rights for her stepdaughter, which nobody is under any legal obligation to give her, I think she may well have decided, or been advised by her lawyers, that silence is the wisest strategy. In her shoes, I think I too might take the “please respect my privacy at this difficult time” tactic, and sit down with Diane Sawyer after the papers are signed to explain at length how absolutely appalled I was at my ex’s vile behavior.

  28. As a Jew, I was raised to believe that I wasn’t white – I think my community regarded “white” as part of the larger Christian culture that we were surrounded by. Despite that, I recognize that my skin color, regardless of my Jewiness, affords me a fuckton of white privilege. Even more so because I don’t look “traditionally Jewish”. Compare that to the husband who is dark and has a schnozz and would stand out in a crowd. Now, compare that to my Korean cousin or any of the thousands of non-”white” Jews of South American, African, Mexican, Chinese or more commonly Persian, Iraqi, Syrian or Egyptian descent and you have a lot of Jews who don’t look like one another.

    This isn’t rocket science people, it’s harder than rocket science.

  29. I think Bullock may not feel like having to comment on any more stupid things her (ex?) husband has done, that she has recently found out about. She may not even have seen this picture; if I were her I would be avoiding all media coverage of the guy and drowning myself in a vat of chocolate ice cream. She’s not responsible for what he does. Yes, I know this means I’m missing your point. I can’t help myself. The guy’s a complete douchebag and deeply embarrassing to anyone who has to admit they ever had anything to do with him, on many, many levels. Why should she have to say so? In due course she may or may not make a statement; or the fact that she divorces him can be considered statement enough.

    Now, if she DOESN’T divorce him, THEN she might want to make a statement.

  30. SM wrote: I am just trying to head off a Nazi 101 conversation, basically, because we are not historians here!

    Got it! Thanks! Sticking to the topic that we can handle: I hadn’t seen any allegations that Mr. James was himself connected in any way to Nazi imagery until this post (I’d just heard something about an alleged mistress who had been photographed in similarly unamusing and totally not okay ways). And I agree with Kate’s post here. Ms. Bullock certainly has paid staffers to help her manage PR, and this information about her husband needs to be addressed. As other commenters are getting at, making hateful jokes like this suggests that there’s a pattern of hate underneath.

  31. *Pulls out her Jew card. Pulls out her “I lived in Germany for five years card*

    Now that we done got that out the way…

    I don’t feel anything for Bullock. I feel sorry for Jews, POCs and a host of other folks who can’t escape yet another display of some hurtful problematic behavior. And the tedious white woman tears of Bullock – oh yes, that’s what the fuck is going on with those non statements, keeping us focused on how hard it must be for HER, who gives a shit.

    A FUCKED RACIST HUSBAND should be hard on her.

  32. Jesse always struck me as a bit douchebaggy from his Monster Garage days, but I always attributed it to unchecked dude privilege and the general dude-culture of the gearhead television shows. Fans/viewers of Monster Garage would probably agree with me that he didn’t have many people around him saying “that shit is not cool, man” when he crossed a line. To find out he’s a collector of Nazi paraphernalia doesn’t really surprise me as much as it disappoints me. Jesse, that shit is not cool, man.

    He may be charismatic, capable, and occasionally funny, but I don’t know what Sandra Bullock sees in the man. I’ve wanted to sock him more than a few times, and I don’t have to live with the man. I mean, different strokes and all, but damn!

  33. Thank you, Kate, for insisting that calling out ism-riddled speech/acts is essential to social justice, esp. when they originate in those who are close to us (or near to our hearts). I love this site & the way it encourages me to think critically about how I think and the way I live.

  34. P.S. I guess I have one caveat. I’m willing to consider the reality that SB is wailing on a bathroom floor somewhere rending her garments, and consequently just not capable of a coherent conversation with a PR person. So days might pass in silence even if SB is a good, non-racist, anti-white power kind of person. I’d be willing to believe in her good nature so long as when she does make a statement it is very convincing. Which will require quite a lot the longer this goes on.

    Why does she even deserve the benefit of the doubt? That just baffles me. I don’t care how many women her husband bangs. That’s not really an excuse or does it explain away being married to a racist, problematic assclown.

    Maybe other folks are nervous about doing so, but I’m not. I have no problem assuming the logical consequence of laying down with dogs is to wake up with fleas. The offending photos were taken while the two were dating, so it’s not as though this shit happened last Tuesday. Bullock has had lots and lots of time to figure out what those photos meant for her weekend and in the end decided they weren’t that big of a deal.

    How do I know? Because she married him.

    So in my book, she’s not much better than he is. Also it’s really weird how we’re supposed to be all about some agency, but if a woman is called out for questionable behavior from the folks she’s associated with suddenly it’s okay to frame her as a victim and frame those who go, “Wait, what’s really going on?” as victim blamers.

  35. Regarding conflating “fuckwit” with “halfwit”, eh, I don’t think so.

    When you are saying something is “fucked”, you’re saying it’s chaotic, messed up, screwed. And however James professes to position himself on the racism spectrum, “messed up” is probably the politest way of describing his so-called thought processes and judgement.

  36. Okay, as a Jewish person, I’m going to speak up and say I’m uncomfortable with the need for there to be a special word for hatred of Jewish people separate from hatred of other people because of their race or religion or ethnic background (however you define it). I feel that racism covers “anti-Semitism” just fine (and the word “anti-Semitist” is misleading anyway, considering there are other Semitic peoples who don’t generally get included under this umbrella term). If it were KKK imagery, I don’t think it would be offensive to use the term “racist” instead of “anti-Black,” so I can’t find this offensive. That, and – well, it saddens me how often the entirety of the hatred of the Nazis is overshadowed by greater magnitude of their targeting Jewish people (I can’t tell you how often I hear people referring to the “6 million people killed in the Holocaust.” No. 6 million Jewish people, and 5 million more besides.)

    And on the broader subject of the post, I’m going to carefully agree with Kate here, though I do think waiting more than a couple of days (it was only earlier this week the picture surfaced, right?) and seeing if she’ll say anything is appropriate. But I do think *something* needs to be said before long.

  37. I don’t know what she ever saw in that guy. Especially seeing as how she was 40 years old when she married him; it’s not like she was some wide eyed teenager who’d never been anywhere or met other men. I’m still baffled, but I’m more pragmatic than romantic.

    It’s got to be pretty effed up to find out your spouse is having condom-less foursomes without you from the tabloids. And then to wonder what is going to happen to the child you’ve been raising with him the last four years (the one whose mother is supposedly too messed up to raise?). So she has a lot to be thinking about – a lot that doesn’t even have to do with Jesse, but her own health and future as a parent.

    I am not in the least bit surprised that she isn’t addressing the racist aspect of his behavior; as a white person, it may not even be registering with her – and perhaps it is even less likely to register with her as a white person with black friends (she may not feel the need to distance herself, assuming that it is assumed that she doesn’t share these beliefs). I mean, clearly this guy disrespects women, but no one is calling for her to make statements disavowing his sexism.

    I definitely agree with the gist of Kate’s argument – especially as it’s phrased in this rebuttal piece on SP. But as just another woman … it’s hard for me to imagine being Sandra Bullock right now and, with all the reports of her husband’s disgusting behavior coming out, zoning in on the Nazi hat wearing and addressing that specifically (and publicly). And I imagine that, if anything, her PR people know this other reality: Everyone* loves a beautiful white woman who’s been done wrong; once she’s shed her tears and accepted everyone’s condolences, she can be strong.

    *I am being sarcastic.

  38. Really interesting post. I don’t necessarily agree with your assessment the Bullock had better issue a position statement, but quick. But I was completely blown away by the brilliance of this paragraph:

    “But come on. We don’t want to make people uncomfortable. White people, I mean. I understand that racism itself tends to have damaging effects on everyone else, but since I’ve never personally experienced it, I can only speak as a white woman — and let me tell you, being told that something you’ve done as a well-intentioned, liberal white person was, in fact, racist? AWKWARD! So before you go trying to end oppression, you should probably take that into consideration, okay?”

    I am so, so glad to see this particular dynamic articulated so clearly. It’s something I have encountered in white liberal circles quite a bit, and it needs to stop. Like, yesterday.

  39. I’ve been really struggling lately with the fact that in a white-dominated society, it’s a treated as a worse crime to say or even to imply that a white person’s statement/funny post/comment is problematically, even just potentially racist, than it is to MAKE a problematic, potentially racist statement — and, y’know, directly causing pain or harm to the people of color around you. ARGH. For instance, I called out a few friends on the racism of the “teabonics” thing and it didn’t go over well. Even after being burned once (I made a comment, then suddenly couldn’t view the post any more, and not because she deleted it) I then went and commented again on the problematic implications of calling it that when someone else posted it. And on the other side of the problem, I taught Nella Larsen’s “Passing” last week to my class. And I am sure that I made mistakes, that I said racist things to my class but wasn’t aware of it — I’m not 101 level, but I still make mistakes — but since I’m a Nice White Lady *and* I’m their teacher, my mixed-race classroom students aren’t really in a position to call me out on it. (Oh, I say “if” I made mistakes, but I’m sure I did.) I’m not going to teach an all-white syllabus in order to protect myself from potential blunders, but I want to learn, I want to be called out, I want it to be okay for my friends or anyone else (whether white or nonwhite) to say, when they notice me (despite my best efforts) failing anyway, “Hey, you know, I think that thing you just said/posted/etc is racist,” and for it to be understood that I know they are *not* saying “YOU ARE AN IRREDEEMABLE RACIST,” to me — that they know I am working hard to be less racist every day, and being called out when I fail is one of the many ways that I can learn. I work hard to self-educate, absolutely, I put the burden on myself, it’s not anybody else’s job to teach me. But it would be easier if we lived in a society where it was more okay to talk about it, more okay to call out racist ideas and statements and posts and constructions when we saw them. And it is, though not surprising, just fucked up that it is treated as acceptable to hurt somebody by saying something racist, while what is *never* okay is the “hurt” caused by calling somebody out on it. Because, of course, the first kind of hurt is hurting people of color, and the second kind of hurt is hurting WHITE people.

  40. p.s. I should add, as it’s not clear despite my long-ass comment, that I think it’s unlikely that Bullock didn’t know about her husband’s wacked out mindset before she married him. So I don’t actually feel sorry for her, I was just commenting on her behavior. I knew a super lovely dude who was totally in love with me but believed that Blacks and Native Americans were the Chosen People and would be taken up in the Rapture with everyone else left behind. I didn’t entertain dating that guy for even 1 second even though he pursued me for months. Not because his ideas were unusual but because they were EFFING WRONG. It didn’t matter how nice, handsome, or cool he was in other respects.

    Most women who are married to asswipes are painted with the same brush their husbands get brushed with. Beautiful White Women are the only ones who seem to get a pass. Whatever.

  41. My cynical guess is you will get more people paying attention and agreeing, not just because you happen to be both correct and articulate (insert your favorite ironic Chris Rock “speaks so well” joke here) but also because you are

    1) all-white, unlike this person, and

    2) blonde, unlike this one,

    even though you are all saying pretty much the exact same thing.

    I’ll also place an outside bet both the post and cross-post top a thousand comments – this post, before the week is out; the Jez cross-post, before the day is out.

  42. The second “this one” was supposed to refer to this person’s comment, not to me (though I’m not blonde either, perhaps my computer wants me to represent as though I am, idk).

  43. I know this may be slightly o/t, but since the question of Jews as a race has been raised: we are not and never have been. Jews come in all different colours and ethnicities: white, black African, Afro-Caribbean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Arabic, you name a country and I guarantee there will be some Jews there. The notion of Jews as a race is itself an antisemitic construct dreamed up to justify treating Jews as being apart from the nations in which they lived and to lend credence to the notion of a Jewish conspiracy aimed at ruling the world. I understand the official position to be that Jews are a people or a nation tied together by cultural/religious customs and by common ancestors (genetic tests show loose familial links between orthodox Jews) but there is not and never has been a “Jewish race”.

    There is certainly prejudice towards Jews, which is pretty much indistinguishable from prejudice towards other peoples/cultures/ethnicities/races/whatever you want to call it, and certainly neo-Nazis don’t consider Jews to be “proper” white people even if some Jews are white, so I tend to assume that “racism” in the sense that Kate used it covers antisemitism too.

  44. you name a country and I guarantee there will be some Jews there

    I meant to add: “and you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were any different from the majority culture by looking at them”. The idea that you can tell someone’s Jewish by looking at them gets up my nose. No one ever guesses that I’m Jewish, and I hear a lot of antisemitism, and then I have to declare myself and challenge what was said, and then I get stick for implying that someone else is antisemitic, because obviously that’s much more offensive to them than their antisemitism was to me, etc etc etc.

  45. Personally, I like the fact that she hasn’t issued a statement. When actresses/actors, models, singers etc. do that, it strikes me as the person overestimating the importance of themselves or their actions. Heads of state issuing statements about public policy that will affect the citizens of their countries? That makes perfect sense.

    An actress issuing a statement about her husband’s beliefs? Pretty much pointless. At the end of the day, she’s a woman whose husband cheated on her repeatedly and probably exposed her to STD’s. She’s getting a divorce. Those are private problems that have little to do with my life or the lives of most of the people reading about this. I find this idea that she has some obligation to say something publicly about this very strange.

    If I’d found out my husband had had unprotected sex with several different women, making a public statement about his beliefs would be way, way down on my list of things to do. More pressing would be a visit to the doctor(s), divorce lawyer(s) and dozens of showers involving scalding hot water and Brillo.

  46. “Many Jezebel commenters are, um, loyal to their beloved celebrities to the point of utter blindness.”

    Sniper, after some thought — probably way too much — I’m thinking that’s a case of identification and/or wish-fulfillment identification.

    (With no little blame OTPO the Hollywood machine for strong encouragement to identify just that way, of course.)

    Which, yeah, probably makes the kneejerky defensiveness that much more kneejerky and defensive.

  47. I actually had the same thought as Emma B. If she is getting divorced (which seems likely), her attorney may be absolutely forbidding her from making any public statements about James. Especially if she is trying to get custody of his daughter, she may think that staying silent is better than saying anything that could be used against her in court. If she is making that choice, she is probably aware of the other ways staying quiet could be interpreted, but finds more value in doing so.

    The question is still worth asking, and enough attention may get her to respond somehow.

  48. 3. Weasel words and weasel phrases. Look, you wanna gossip about another woman, call it for what it is. That’s what this is. She’s not responsible for her hubby. The picture is fucking sick and disgusting, but you’re basically attacking Bullock with the oldest sexist shit in the book: She must have known. She should have known. Oh, yeah, and there’s a hearty dose of: “Well, I would have known.”

    I’m kind of amazed and disgusted at otherwise smart women going, “Well, Sandy Bullock MIGHT be upset, but she owes us an explanation RIGHT NOW.’ For….something her husband did? And I know she’s a movie star and all but since when did that mean superhero?

    God, I hope you don’t treat battered women like this. “Well, you HAD to have known. And you must be just as racist as he is. Nobody could not know.”

    And this stuff?

    * “all anyone can do is speculate”
    * “all of the information we have comes from questionable sources”
    * “I have absolutely no idea what she knew and when she knew it, and no way of finding out”
    * “I like Sandra Bullock”
    * “I’m not saying we should be accusing Bullock, or assuming anything just yet”
    * “all I know for sure is that I don’t know the woman at all”

    Is usually a pretty good sign that until something happens, until Bullock maybe stops being an normal human woman who got dealt a body blow, that you should just shut the fuck up and let her recover or whatever.

    Christ, this is the most disappointing bullshit I’ve seen in a while. Stay away from rape victims and battered wives, okay?

  49. “I had the “pleasure” of living with a bunch of /b/tards, their terminology, not mine, for a few years and that kind of inappropriate racist humor is a staple of the site that they browsed. However, while they laughed at the jokes, none of their other actions in any sphere of life could be called racist.”

    *stares at 897*
    *reads the post again*
    *stares some more*

    897, did you miss the entire point of the post?

    Or are you one of those people who thinks as long as there’s no
    - KKK meeting
    - cross-burning
    - hosing down of people during rallies
    - swastika-tattooing, or
    - Confederate-flag waving

    happening,

    there’s “no action that could be called racist” going on???

    WOULD SOMEONE MIND TELLING ME WHY IT’S APPARENTLY WORSE TO BE CALLED A RACIST THAN TO DO SOMETHING RACIST????

    Thank you in advance.

  50. Personally, I like the fact that she hasn’t issued a statement. When actresses/actors, models, singers etc. do that, it strikes me as the person overestimating the importance of themselves or their actions. Heads of state issuing statements about public policy that will affect the citizens of their countries? That makes perfect sense.

    Really? How so. Also, it seems you’re missing the point about all of this. It’s not merely that she hasn’t made a statement, it’s that as a white woman she DOES NOT have to and it’s totally OKAY and not only that, folks like stand up and cheer that she doesn’t. You think Angela Bassett would be afforded the same courtesy of – godforbid – her hubby pull this shit and ran around being incredibly problematic? What about Beyonce? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t and probably would be chased off the planet.

    Her white skin affords her things like the benefit of the doubt and all this hand wringing and the ability to frame the issue in a manner which erases her culpability. That’s really offensive to me. We done already talked about how fucked up the hubby was/is in regards to his behaviors and hey, at least he’s actually gone to rehab to steam out the hate or whatever. So at some point, there ought to be a statement. And not endless excuses from the folks who like her or arm chair celebrity divorce experts.

    Besides she gotta do it real quick lest she lose all those fakey anti-racist points hard earned with her involvement with the eye rolly CRASH.

  51. “I had the “pleasure” of living with a bunch of /b/tards, their terminology, not mine, for a few years and that kind of inappropriate racist humor is a staple of the site that they browsed. However, while they laughed at the jokes, none of their other actions in any sphere of life could be called racist.”

    Nice white ladies, FTW.

  52. @snarksymachine – I agree with you..if this was a black actress it would be a total whirlwind of mania that would kick off until she had to practically sob in public for all eternity and even then it would still get brought up at every future possibility.

  53. Snarkysmarchine, she doesn’t owe you shit. She’s not a politician; her husband didn’t get caught embezzling, and she’s one woman who’s tried to live a fairly private life in a public profession. You’re blaming her for her hubbie. So…..are we blaming women for not knowing their husbands were scumbags? Or are you so special that you demand a statement from a woman who’s just seen her husband humiliate her not just in private but in front of the world? Wow. You’re makiing her into a representative of lots of women, but is this how you treat anybody else who’s just been fucked over by a husband?

    Blaming women for their husbands is a long old tradition, especially when it comes to racial issues, where white men seem to get dismissed with platitudes while hte real knives come out fro other women. You got any evidence at all she’s a co-conspirator? Because until there is, you’re just doing shit you’d get nailed for—-deservedly so—-if you were man.

    This thing strikes as being the same kind of shit that leads women on rape juries to be harder on women than men are. Hey, if you’re that afraid of some guy lying this badly to you and humiliating you publicly, deal with it. Until you have any proof at all, it’s just girl on girl crime.

  54. What on earth is a /b/tard? And also, I am sick to death of hearing about these mythical white people who have never done or thought anything racist. WTH? I grew up Muslim, raised by Muslims, surrounded by Muslims, WAS a Muslim, and STILL – shortly after 9/11, when I saw a Muslim man with a beard wearing a thobe, in an airport, my blood pressure went up. So give me an effing break. It is IMPOSSIBLE to not have absorbed this culture and media. You can reject it, but you aren’t insusceptible to it. If I hear one more thing about Impervious Colorblind SuperWhitey I am going to scream!

  55. Snarkysmarchine, she doesn’t owe you shit. She’s not a politician; her husband didn’t get caught embezzling, and she’s one woman who’s tried to live a fairly private life in a public profession. You’re blaming her for her hubbie. So…..are we blaming women for not knowing their husbands were scumbags? Or are you so special that you demand a statement from a woman who’s just seen her husband humiliate her not just in private but in front of the world? Wow. You’re makiing her into a representative of lots of women, but is this how you treat anybody else who’s just been fucked over by a husband?

    Firstly, you need to back up off this MOD with your tough talk or find yourself banned. Secondly, you need to learn to read what’s written or not use me as a target for your ire. And since you clearly don’t seem to know shit one about privilege/oppression based on your response here as a MOD I advise you to shut the hell up. Don’t make me say it twice.

  56. I’m a little confused by all the “maybe she didn’t know, so she shouldn’t have to make a statement” comments I’ve been seeing.

    Maybe she didn’t know before, but she probably knows now. And there’s nothing stopping her from issuing a statement saying “I didn’t know he was a racist Nazi fan” or “To my knowledge, he isn’t a racist Nazi fan, and I’m surprised by all the evidence to the contrary” or “I’m waiting until after my divorce is finalized to comment on that” or something else distancing herself from him or explaining a lack of commentary.

  57. > I am sick to death of hearing about these mythical white people who have never done or thought anything racist. WTH? . . . It is IMPOSSIBLE to not have absorbed this culture and media. You can reject it, but you aren’t insusceptible to it. If I hear one more thing about Impervious Colorblind SuperWhitey I am going to scream!

    Repeated for truth! Exactly! We try, and we fail sometimes — it has to be okay to call people out on it, so we can fail better next time. Privileged people have to learn to handle feeling crappy about these issues sometimes. People who don’t have that kind of privilege have to handle feeling crappy about these issues all the damn time.

  58. But I refuse to jump on the bandwagon of calling someone “racist.” Maybe it’s because I once was falsely accused of being racist. I was helping an exceptionally annoying and needy white customer in the store I was working at and a black woman was unable to get my attention right away (and apparently I was a little curt once she got me because the other person had so frazzled me), so instead of thinking, “she’s busy” or “man, that woman is being needy and annoying” this woman immediately went “she’s not helping me because I’m black.” And, no, she didn’t confront ME about it, she waited until the next day and emailed my boss. And instead of saying, “this girl took a long time to help me” or “she seemed short-tempered” she blamed racism. I should mention that this was a job I’d had for about a week. If I’d had a less understanding and nice boss I could have lost my job over someone else’s conclusion-jumping. Therefore I won’t make that leap.

    @Liza – My thought in reading this is that there are worst things in the world than someone mistakenly thinking you were treating them poorly because of their race one day. Like the fact that it’s probably happened to them so many times that they didn’t know what else to think. And no, they aren’t going to talk to YOU about it because if they did, they’d be an Angry Black Woman who, if you were recounting *that* story, would have humiliated and embarrassed you in front of other customers (which I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked). She was totally within her right to email your boss about her perception of the situation, and your boss can continue to do their job in discerning whether there’s any need for disciplinary action. The fact is, if you had been being racist towards her, and had a pattern of that, your boss would need to be aware.

  59. @ ginmar and KMTBERRY –

    I certainly don’t expect you to agree, but others reading along and wondering about the integrity of your arguments might find this interesting.

  60. From what I can tell, the photo surfaced *one day ago* – while that’s an age in internet time, it’s entirely possible that she hasn’t seen this, or her ‘people’ are screening media and haven’t shown it to her.

    Even if she does know, and is prioritizing something (or many somethings) over taking an anti-racism and anti-anti-Semitism stance, I firmly disagree that we have a ‘right’ to an immediate answer on this issue, because we are STRANGERS to these people. (Note: I’m not saying that ignoring the issue is a value-neutral decision.)

    We all have a responsibility to stand up against hate, but the fact Perez Hilton is involved makes this *vastly* different from situations most of us face. We have no idea what conversations have happened privately, and the fact that there are kids involved makes it a minefield. Stepparents get fuck-all in the way of parental rights, and wanting to be there for those kids is an entirely reasonable motivation for wanting to take a measured approach to the chaos, rather than responding hour-by-hour to all of the new shit that these kids are going to have to deal with.

    Whatever the situation, I think that she’s entitled to her ‘no comment’ for a while. It doesn’t make it a laudable decision, and I think you’re correct that she’s going to have to address this, and address her silence on the issue or face hefty career repercussions. But she doesn’t owe us immediate answers.

    Lastly, the one thing that I’m going to think about more as time goes on is how the feminist implications of this are getting ignored most of the time. Would Matt Damon be getting this kind of flack if his wife did something racist? I personally think that things would look very, very different in that case, and I think it’s important to look at why that is.

  61. From what I can tell, the photo surfaced *one day ago* – while that’s an age in internet time, it’s entirely possible that she hasn’t seen this, or her ‘people’ are screening media and haven’t shown it to her.

    The photo was snapped in 2004! You really think this is the first Bullock’s hearing about this?

    Lastly, the one thing that I’m going to think about more as time goes on is how the feminist implications of this are getting ignored most of the time. Would Matt Damon be getting this kind of flack if his wife did something racist? I personally think that things would look very, very different in that case, and I think it’s important to look at why that is.

    This is a straw man. Of course this would be handled differently and we know why that is. Oddly enough, it’s the same reason Bullock is getting her “benefit” of the doubt – Damon’s wife is a nice looking “read as white, but European” woman JUST LIKE BULLOCK. Derailing for Dummies 101.

    Between feminist apologists and the newsweek feminist dramedy, it’s no wonder feminism can’t have nice things.

  62. hsofia: Thank you. I was trying to figure out how to say exactly that, but I didn’t have to, because you said it first (and better).

  63. For fuck’s sake, what does a white person have to do around here before a critical mass of other white people are willing to say, “Yep, that’s some racist bullshit”?

    This x 1,000.

    Liza – you had 1 single experience in a lifetime of being treated a negative way because of your skin color. God only knows how many negative moments the other customer has experienced in her lifetime due to her skin color. You really want to equate your discomfort with one experience, that wasn’t even a face to face confrontation and was a situation where you were confident you hadn’t done anything wrong, with the experiences of a person of color in a western society throughout a whole lifetime? Come on.

    DRST

  64. Missed a lot of stuff while writing – one thing I wanted to respond to was Snarkysmachine’s point WRT white privilege. I agree that SB is getting a pass from some media outlets where WOC wouldn’t, and I think that especially when people are all up in arms about racism, that really should get explored more, especially the idea that white people aren’t hurt by racism, so dealing with it is optional.

    As for your other points – the fact that the pic is from 2004 is def. a question to address, but it’s not something that I’m willing to make assumptions on without any other info.

    On the Matt Damon thing, I firmly believe that gender is having a huge impact on the ‘cultural conversation’ that’s happening around SB. It’s far from the only aspect of things, and it in no way means that racism isn’t an issue. The way I phrased things seems to have take me into an inadvertent mindfield with you, Snarkysmachine, but I’m not going to back down from the fact that gender is one of the relevant elements here.

  65. On the Matt Damon thing, I firmly believe that gender is having a huge impact on the ‘cultural conversation’ that’s happening around SB. It’s far from the only aspect of things, and it in no way means that racism isn’t an issue. The way I phrased things seems to have take me into an inadvertent mindfield with you, Snarkysmachine, but I’m not going to back down from the fact that gender is one of the relevant elements here.

    You’ll get no debate on the gender angle, but I do take issue with yet another version of the tired 2nd wave argument GENDER trumps RACE, which is what’s happening up in this piece. The gender piece IS important, however, in this case it’s just a tired derail.

    As for your other points – the fact that the pic is from 2004 is def. a question to address, but it’s not something that I’m willing to make assumptions on without any other info.

    Why? That’s the question I’ve yet to see anyone address with an argument other than one which boils down to “she’s a nice white lady”.

  66. With respect, not sure why we need to hear a white woman ranting about this. The rage seems somehow… forced. As a woman of color, do I mind that Sandy gets a free pass because she’s a pretty white gal? Sure. Bring it up, call her on the shit, but the boiling over about it seems out of whack. What I’m not cool with is mods smacking down people who expect anti-semitism and racism not to get painted with the same wide brush here. There’s a lot of similar pain there, but it feels very othering to me to group it all together. You don’t need to be a historian to watch your language.

  67. Well, although the photo is from 6 years ago, it is not unthinkable that she hasn’t seen it, especially if Nazi fetishism was something he engaged in with his mistress(es) (the most noted of which so far also appears to be some kind of neo-Nazi POS.) I don’t think that is an assumption directly related to race. I am sure there are some photos of Jay from 2006 that Beyonce hasn’t seen.

  68. Would Matt Damon be getting this kind of flack if his wife did something racist?

    He would from me. I can’t speak for anyone else.

    And Ginmar, I really don’t know what else to say that I haven’t already said in the post.

  69. Since the picture is from 2004, it is from before the two were married. I’m not sure how long they were together before getting married though.

    Just to be clear, I agree that it looks bad for her not to make a statement, and it will look worse the longer she waits. However, one day isn’t that much time in the context of getting you, your publicist, and your attorney to all agree on the statement. For that matter, for all we know, they could have signed some kind of prenup that prevents her from making public statements about him during their separation.

    Again, I agree that it looks bad, and she and her people must know that. I hope to see a response of some kind from her soon.

  70. Sorry, to be clear, other than “nice white lady”TM, I think the other reason might be, she was ignorant of it, now she is flabbergasted, and possibly legally gagged.

    Which is the same reason I would wait on B’s response as well. That, and I like B better than Sandra Bullock. I am pretty sure B has a plane.

  71. Sure. Bring it up, call her on the shit, but the boiling over about it seems out of whack.

    Perhaps you missed the bazillion-comment thread on Jezebel that this is a response to? This post is not so much directing anger at Bullock as at the commenters who go “Well how could she have KNOWN?!” Puffalo hit the nail on the head: Maybe she didn’t know before, but she probably knows now.

  72. And since the bulk of the post focused on this aspect: yeah, there is no way that photo is anything but crazy racist. The idea that there is any kind of context that would have made it okay is absolutely ludicrous, and I’m not sure how anyone could suggest otherwise.

  73. Regarding the nice white lady-ness and whatnot, I think what I’m getting from Kate’s posts and this conversation is that the problem isn’t so much whether SB makes a statement or not (though it is a problem, of course) but that she is not, due to said nice white lady-ness, not really expected to by most people? As in, it’s not a huge deal that she’s not addressing the fact that she was married to at least a casually if not actively racist douche because she gets the benefit of the doubt due to being a NWL, when, oh, Barack F’ing Obama failed to receive the same consideration from a lot of people when he didn’t publicly denounce and shun some mildly questionable (by Republican standards) acquaintances that he never actually, like, lived with or had sex with. Because who he associates is a reflection on his character, dontcha know.

    Ok, I hope I didn’t completely miss the point…back to stfu’ing, listening, and learning, as I think I’m over my head a bit in this conversation. :)

  74. You know, I’m a woman of color a Mexican-Americna/Latina/Chicana/Hispanic (my lable changes daiily, it’s quite fun!) person. And I absolutely agree that anti-semitism is reprehensible and that Jesse James is an ass on so many levels I don’t know where to start – of course.

    I don’t think you were victim-blaming, but I personally don’t think Sandra Bullock owes an explanation, at this point, to anyone on how she deals with her asshole husband. If there was credibly evidence that she knew, and approved, or brushed it under the rug, or if we knew he didn’t lie to her, and pretended to just be a history buff, or whateer, I’d be with you Kate. To say with definite knowledge that a person is anti-semitic and/or a neo-nazi, in my mind, requires solid proof. Do we have this proof of Jesse? Yes, I have no problem with that.

    With Sandra? No not really. I know you said above Kate, that you are not passing judgment but it’s like, the very questioning of her is so strangely judgmental in itself, that I’m having a hard time reconciling these two contradictory strains within your argument.

    I could care less that Sandra is white and she is an actress, I don’t even like her all that much (i’m semi-neutral/semi-postive at best). What I take issue with is the assumption that she absolutely has to right now, explain all the ins, outs, details, nuances and vagaries of why she put up with his shit so long. Or that she has to right now! Put out a statement that she hates what he is doing. I don’t know if she’s shocked, disgusted, grappling with the idea of a divorce, hating him too, humilated, whatever. Maybe she hates the picture too? Maybe she already told him it was disgusting and he fed her seom line that it was a joke and she fell for it? Maybe she feels duped? I have no clue.

  75. What I’m not cool with is mods smacking down people who expect anti-semitism and racism not to get painted with the same wide brush here. There’s a lot of similar pain there, but it feels very othering to me to group it all together. You don’t need to be a historian to watch your language.

    While I respect your viewpoint, I really don’t believe SM was doing that. (I’m assuming you’re referring to her comment, though I probably shouldn’t.)

    Actually, as a Jew AND a person of color, it was kind of refreshing, because it seems to send a shout out to those of us who aren’t what folks immediately think of when they hear the word “Jewish”. Maybe that wasn’t her intention, but it made me feel fuzzy. But that’s a derail for a different day.

  76. Thanks for clarifying where you’re coming from – I wasn’t intending to *ever* say that gender trumps race (though I can see how that might be read into my choice to have the gender thing at the end of my 1st comment – the perils of being long-winded and not finding better transitions).

    I couldn’t make it through more than a few comments at Jezebel that were of the ‘stop hating on my FAVE star’ variety, so I hadn’t seen the massive fail over there. Nothing makes a point seem more distasteful than when it’s been used to try and do the internet equivalent of stomping one’s feet and shouting “she’s not a racist ’cause I LIKE her and you’re just mean to girls!”

    Not to mention that since Kate wouldn’t be a softie for *anyone*, it’s far from directly relevant.

    As for assuming that she didn’t know about the picture sometime in the last 6 years, I have no idea how much of a ‘share everything’ relationship they have. If he has a Nazi memoribilia collection, that’s impossible to fucking ignore, but if the photo was a one-off taken when he was with other friends, I could see it never coming up. (Again – it’s a racist one-off, but being a one-off makes it way more possible to have not known about.)

    Even if he was of the “but it’s ironic school of racist douchebaggery, and that was known to Bullock, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s had one day to deal with this particular issue, and I remain convinced that there could be reasons she’s not saying anything that relate to custody or other interpersonal issues. Her silence is tacit approval, and it’s not a neutral decision to stay quiet, but I think that she deserves a little more time because we don’t know what other legal/custody issues might be involved. Once she talks, I think it’s a more than fair question to ask ‘why did you wait to say something?’

  77. Regarding the nice white lady-ness and whatnot, I think what I’m getting from Kate’s posts and this conversation is that the problem isn’t so much whether SB makes a statement or not (though it is a problem, of course) but that she is not, due to said nice white lady-ness, not really expected to by most people?

    Don’t know about anyone else, but yeah, that’s my major maladjustment with the whole thing. I don’t follow the celeb stuff and have gone to the movies exactly twice in the last 24 years, so I barely know who either of these people are. I also don’t care one whit if she makes a statement or not… my issue, and the one I saw Kate addressing most vociferously, was that media outlets that are not at all shy about demanding such statements have gone mum. Reporters who normally lead with… “Scandal X!! Who knew? How much did they know? And when did they know it??!! The public has a RIGHT to know!!” are suddenly completely mute on the subject. Looking at why she’s being treated differently isn’t in any way the same thing as accusing her of being a Nazi or stupid or anything else. It’s just asking, “hey, what gives here? Why is the NWL getting treatment X when other people get grilled with rubber hoses??” And that is a completely legit and necessary question if we’re ever gonna get anywhere.

  78. What I’m not cool with is mods smacking down people who expect anti-semitism and racism not to get painted with the same wide brush here. There’s a lot of similar pain there, but it feels very othering to me to group it all together. You don’t need to be a historian to watch your language.

    I really didn’t mean to be smacking down anyone; I just think this is a language question that’s not settled and won’t be settled by us in this thread, so I am asking that we not derail in that direction.

  79. “hey, what gives here? Why is the NWL getting treatment X when other people get grilled with rubber hoses??”

    Hmm o.k. now I’m getting the meta-ness of the argument. I don’t know, I think those questions will be coming soon enough actually at some point. That being said, I can’t think of a very similar situation off the top of my head to make the same comparison..

  80. As for assuming that she didn’t know about the picture sometime in the last 6 years, I have no idea how much of a ’share everything’ relationship they have. If he has a Nazi memoribilia collection, that’s impossible to fucking ignore, but if the photo was a one-off taken when he was with other friends, I could see it never coming up. (Again – it’s a racist one-off, but being a one-off makes it way more possible to have not known about.)

    People who hold the beliefs similar to James’s don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Why would they hide it? Hiding it would denote a conscious understanding it’s wrong. The only thing he’s probably regretting is how it’s affecting his life NOW. So given that, it’s unlikely this would have been something Bullock WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN ABOUT HIM.

    Folks talk about their “racist” friends, loved ones, coworkers and depending on their level of interaction frame their relationships in a way that works for them. And since most folks like to be the hero of their story, most of that framing doesn’t include them being problematic.

    Look, folks are free to associate with all the racists they wish, but it seems a bit fatuous to be hurt or surprised when you’re judged harshly because of it.

  81. As a woman of color, do I mind that Sandy gets a free pass because she’s a pretty white gal? Sure. Bring it up, call her on the shit, but the boiling over about it seems out of whack.

    The “boiling over” is about people making excuses for the photo and acting as though it’s horrible to even question whether she knew about this shit, not at her for not making a statement.

  82. You know, another thing that nobody has brought up is that, if Sandy B is hunkering down and planning her divorce, she has probably (smartly) been advised by her team of attorneys to keep her mouth shut. Plus like, I can think of a dumping or two where I couldn’t even communicate correctly to friends, much less in a statement to the media, and there weren’t even kids/public humiliation involved. I think the problem here is much less with the media, and much more with peoples’ beliefs that, without knowing for sure, there is NO WAY IN HELL that Sandy B could have POSSIBLY known that her husband is a racist piece of poop.

  83. Grrr, that last comment should have read “with Sandra Bullock” rather than “with the media” in the last sentence.

  84. @msjacks, actually several people up-thread have brought up the idea that her silence is a legal maneuver.

  85. MS Jacks:

    ” 567Kate

    I actually had the same thought as Emma B. If she is getting divorced (which seems likely), her attorney may be absolutely forbidding her from making any public statements about James. “

  86. True, but I don’t think publicly denouncing problematic behavior, particularly if framed in a “mistakes were made” way would thwart her divorce proceedings. And since it’s clear the judge didn’t issue a gag order – as James’s publicist has released statements – I don’t even know what the point of this argument is.

  87. Silentbeep, I wish that I could also believe that the ‘why is she getting treated nicely when we treat other people hostilely’ question would get addressed at some point, but I don’t think that the MSM is likely to even see it as an issue, sadly. As killedbyllamas pointed out, we’re very entrenched in grilling people about their associations, and I think that if most reporters do end up thinking about it, they figure they’re giving her a pass because of the ‘nice’ in nice white lady. She’s just so sweet! How could we push her? America’s Sweetheart!

    But there isn’t a NBL (nice black lady) or NLOC (nice lady of color) trope that would come up for other nonwhite women in her situation, or for guys of color. The fact that we haven’t had a nonwhite woman fill the America’s Sweetheart role means that it’s racial privilege that’s causing the media to treat her differently, and that’s painfully ironic given that the questions they’re not asking are about racism.

    I still think that she should be given time, as should anyone in her situation, but that doesn’t change the broader dynamics.

  88. If there really are legal reasons, then she could at least say so. “I am unable to comment right now because I am in the middle of a difficult divorce.”
    It would be better than keeping silent. Because yes, silence implies approval.
    I am not sure who said it (I am horrid with names), but it is true that “in any situation in which there is oppression, to say nothing is to side with the oppresssor.”

    So maybe she can not denounce him publicly. She could at least make the statement to make it clear that her lack of protest is not silent approval.

    And nobody is saying that she is responsible for what he did. What people want to know is if she approves of his actions.

    Oh, and another thing. Victim blaming, in this case, would be to blame jews or POCs for Jesse’s actions. Because they are the victims of raceism and anti-semitism. Want to know who are not victims of that? Nice White Ladies.

    So even if Kate had blamed SB for her husbands actions, which she didn’t, it still wouldn’t have been victim blaming.

  89. @Alice

    I don’t know how much this is solely about “the nice white lady” thing (though it may be there for sure, don’t have a problem with recognizing that0, but I also thinnk another dynamic that is in play here, is the sympathy garnered for marrying such a total asshole, in addition to the timing of these revelations. I think the MSM may not even want to broach a sujbect that can even be remotely misconstured as “blame the victim.” So, what I do think is, if the neo-nazi stuff were to come IF she was happily married to him sans cheating and sans rehab, this may be a different story in the media: it’s all the elements that have come together that have made it the way it is I think. Here is someone that reached the pinnacle of her career, and then all these revelations come out about all his cheating, and now he’s in rehab, and now we found out he’s a neo-nazi and/or neo-nazi sympathizer. It’s difficult to tease apart all these elements: the white thing ,the cheater thing, the asshole husband thing.

  90. Can I just attempt to clarify one more time that when I say I think we should already have seen a statement, what I mean is, “That is the only PR move that makes a lick of sense to me,” not “That is what she owes us.” If she’s not thinking about her own PR right now, other people should be. And if they don’t think that photo demands a comment — which perhaps they don’t, since she is, in fact being given the NWL benefit of the doubt for the most part — that is what’s really fucked up here.

  91. Apologies ahead of time for not mastering the formatting here.

    I’m having a hard time getting really exercised about this story, mostly because it is so far following the pattern of other incidents of racism (or sexism, or heterosexism, etc.) involving a celebrity. Very quickly the incident becomes about the celebrity and their behavior or statements (or in this case, lack thereof) and moves away from being a critique of the larger framework in which said behavior is taking place. That is, some of the discussion is focusing so much on what SB is or is not doing that she becomes the focus of the story and the larger issue (for me, anyway) of why SB gets the benefit of the doubt, why everyone is so keen to explain away the Jesse James photo, is eventually obscured.

    Kate’s post does a great job of focusing on the real issue, especially w/this:

    “But we’re not supposed to wonder about Bullock. Because she seems like such a nice person, and she’s publicly said non-racist things, and she’s going through so much, sure. But also because it is considered rude and vaguely scandalous to not give an apparently nice white person the extreme benefit of the doubt where any suggestion of racism is concerned. And that’s bullshit.”

    THIS! And yet, I feel like once the MSM (which drives so much of how these things are discussed) gets a hold of a story like this, the heart of the issue gets lost or obscured or ignored in favor of “what is Sandra doing/not doing/saying/not saying” and that is frustrating for me. To be sure, her behavior matters, but it reflects stuff going on at a broader level, and that is where I’d rather the conversation head.

    Because at the end of the day, I don’t really care about SB or what she says or does, since I know that if she does make a statement about this at all, it will be something with weasel words about how she didn’t know or the kind of strongly worded denial (John Edwards, anyone!) that I’ve become inured to for obvious reasons.

    Maybe my tendency to shrug about this kind of thing is a defense mechanism built up over years of watching these allegedly teachable moments turn into nothing. Celeb X makes some half-hearted apology and the United States of Amnesia moves on.

  92. And even giving the but-it’s-history benefit of the doubt, I would run far far away from someone with a collection of Nazi memorabilia. As I would from someone collecting KKK artifacts. It’s not the same as sports items or stamps or the countless other things people collect. Maybe that’s unfair of me, but I just can’t conjure up a reasonably benign motive for keeping symbols of such horror around.

    Pretty much this times a million. I think culturally that kind of stuff can be important to keep around in, you know, museums, but I would not want to own a piece of that history, and I would not be comfortable socializing with anyone who would.

  93. I think it’s inadvisable and perhaps even sexist to assume that Sandra Bullock is anti-Semitic and/or racist based on the fact that her repugant-on-so-many-levels husband was photographed engaged in an imitation of Nazi behaviour. I note that we are not assuming that she engages in infidelity simply because it turns out that she is married to someone who does, or are we? I think that women are capable of independent thought; I don’t assume that every married woman exactly or even largely mirrors her spouse’s political thinking (if I can stretch a point and refer to Nazism etc as ‘thinking’); sometimes women even marry men who end by murdering them; obviously, anyone is capable of choosing a crap partner. I note that there is no evidence to my knowledge of SB ever behaving in an anti-Semitic and/or racist way herself, or that she knew of her husband’s apparent anti-Semitism and racism, any more than she knew he was sleeping around on her. Assuming SB is racist smacks of guilt by association to me. Perhaps she thinks that condemnation of anti-Semitism and racism goes without saying. All she is guilty of at this point is poor taste in men, IMHO. So, by this point, do I have to wonder? In a nutshell, no.

  94. I think it’s inadvisable and perhaps even sexist to assume that Sandra Bullock is anti-Semitic and/or racist based on the fact that her repugant-on-so-many-levels husband was photographed engaged in an imitation of Nazi behaviour.

    Why? Cause it might hurt her feelings?

    feminist rhetoric concern trolling alert *sirens*

  95. My spouse asked me, while we were in a grocery store the other day, “Why is Sandra Bulloch on the cover of at least three different magazines?”

    To which I said, “Her husband cheated on her with a white supremacist, forehead-tattooed woman for at least the last two years.”

    To which he said, “Why does anyone care?”

    I had no answer then. However, I do care about whether she knew about HIS white-supremacist crap because then she goes on the list of people whose movies I no longer pay to see. But for me, I only need to know the answer in time for the next movie, if it were a movie I’d pay to see in the first place.

  96. Liza, since it seems to need to be re-explained, even though Kate explained it, it’s worse to be a victim of racism than it is to be accused of racism. In fact if everyone in the world thought I was racist in exchange for no one else having to deal with that shit, I’d take that trade. Also, I’m willing to bet your very understanding boss and you had a conversation along the lines of “all black people think everyone who isn’t black is racist.” I’m not feeling any even slight sympathy for you here at all.

    Kate, great article, I can’t imagine why she hasn’t said SOMETHING, it doesn’t make any sense. As for her owing us a statement, which I know isn’t what you’re saying, she does fucking owe us a statement if she ever wants me to see another movie of hers. If she wants my money, she better give me an actual reason to believe she’s not racist, or some fucking neo-nazi.

    “People who hold the beliefs similar to James’s don’t think they are doing anything wrong. Why would they hide it? Hiding it would denote a conscious understanding it’s wrong.”

    As someone with some racist family members, I’m going to have to disagree with this. He doesn’t think it’s wrong, he just knows other people do. He thinks THEY’RE wrong, but he’s also aware that him being upfront about this can have bad consequences because of all those wrong people. My grandma is disgustingly racist at times, but she knows not to say racist things in front of certain people. I think SB did know about all this, and I’m not willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but Jesse James does sort of seem like the type to go “Well, being a nazi is just what I do, but I’ll lose that hottie and her money and her fame if anyone finds out, so I’ll hide it.”

  97. So you’ve all seen every single photo taken of your partner over the years? Every single one?

    I mean, if we’re going to make up stories about their relationship, what about the one where he’s a douche about race issues, she gets up in his face about said issues and he then hides them because ‘damn that nagging’? Or, y’know, him hiding fucking mistresses away?

    Seriously, this is total bullshit. Making up fucking stories to back your points? Constant ‘oh but we don’t know’ doesn’t negate the ‘she must have known’ or the ‘why isn’t she saying something’.

    Is he racist? Fuck yes. Is she racist by association? Fuck that noise. Particularly when you’re basing it on Perez Hilton style SAY SOMETHING IN TWO MINUTES OR YOU CONSENT type bullshit.

  98. Perhaps she thinks that condemnation of anti-Semitism and racism goes without saying

    Obviously these things go without saying quite often. How comfortable are we with people not saying these things, and why?

  99. geekanachronism, What about the one where he’s a douche about race issues and then she dumps him because you shouldn’t be dating someone who is a douche about race issues. Especially not when you’re beautiful and rich and one of the most privileged people in America. Also do you think that for once instead of giving her THE BENEFIT OF THE FUCKING DOUBT FOR BEING FUCKING WHITE, we could go on with the logical conclusion until she says otherwise and not tell every POC in the country that racism is not fucking serious? Also, we’re well past 2 minutes, still no statement, looks like she might be giving silent consent, or at the very least she’s not taking this very seriously.

    Dear god, I hope some of this stuff is just a fucking terrible april fools joke.

  100. As someone with some racist family members, I’m going to have to disagree with this. He doesn’t think it’s wrong, he just knows other people do. He thinks THEY’RE wrong, but he’s also aware that him being upfront about this can have bad consequences because of all those wrong people. My grandma is disgustingly racist at times, but she knows not to say racist things in front of certain people.

    That’s what I mean. It’s the equiv of an apology of the “I’m sorry you felt that way” rather than a real act of contrition.

  101. Waffling… waffling…

    Okay, I don’t have anything of value to contribute to the conversation here, but I’ve been taking part in a lot of conversations lately about anonymity and psuedonymity and the value of a constructed identity…

    Which is to say that my identity on this site matters to me…

    Which is to say, I am not that Liza. That was not me, I did not say that.

  102. So you’ve all seen every single photo taken of your partner over the years? Every single one?

    No, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think it’s funny to dress up in the finest of Romper Stompery either.

    *headdesk*

  103. To snarkysmachine:

    P.S. I guess I have one caveat. I’m willing to consider the reality that SB is wailing on a bathroom floor somewhere rending her garments, and consequently just not capable of a coherent conversation with a PR person. So days might pass in silence even if SB is a good, non-racist, anti-white power kind of person. I’d be willing to believe in her good nature so long as when she does make a statement it is very convincing. Which will require quite a lot the longer this goes on.

    >>Why does she even deserve the benefit of the doubt? That just baffles me.

    She doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, at least not now. I agree with you. I think her silence, as it stretches out, is damning.

    I’m just saying that if, in future, she comes out and vigorously condemns the racism we’ve seen from JJ, and does it convincingly (with words, actions, whatever behavior we require of celebrities)… then I could see myself deciding that she’s decent after all.

    >>I don’t care how many women her husband bangs. That’s not really an excuse or does it explain away being married to a racist, problematic assclown.

    True, if she’s distraught over the fact that her life as she knew it (or more probably, *hoped* it) is decimated, it’s not an excuse for condoning racism. HOWEVER. Life is hard, and we’re imperfect, and I can be compassionate about some imperfections. Failing to leap up and denounce your husband’s antics within 72 hours (or whatever) is going to make me think you’re a racist too, but it’s not at the same level of terrible as doing the heil Hitler pose yourself. Perhaps she’s elected to let her public image go to shit while she regains composure.

    SB is looking pretty ugly to me right now. But I agree with Kate, we don’t know her crimes yet. White supremist? Wouldn’t be surprised. Emotionally fragile person in denial, desperate to keep the family she has professed to love so much? Could be that too. Those are both versions of deeply flawed humans, deserving of criticism, but they are not the same.

    I’m horrified, suspicious, and curious-for-the-truth, in that order. (And not really that curious at all anymore.)

  104. Personally, I like the fact that she hasn’t issued a statement. When actresses/actors, models, singers etc. do that, it strikes me as the person overestimating the importance of themselves or their actions. Heads of state issuing statements about public policy that will affect the citizens of their countries? That makes perfect sense.

    “Really? How so.”

    What do you mean? I’m reading that as “How does a head of state issuing a statement about public policy make sense” but I don’t think that’s what you meant.

    “Also, it seems you’re missing the point about all of this. It’s not merely that she hasn’t made a statement, it’s that as a white woman she DOES NOT have to and it’s totally OKAY and not only that, folks like stand up and cheer that she doesn’t. ”

    That’s one way of looking at it. I see it a bit differently. In a time when every worthless reality show star/faded actress/model/singer feels the need to share every detail of their lives, she’s not yammering on about this on Twitter or some such. It’s not so much that her behavior is something to “stand up and cheer about”. Hers’ just looks better in comparison to others.

    “You think Angela Bassett would be afforded the same courtesy of – godforbid – her hubby pull this shit and ran around being incredibly problematic? What about Beyonce? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t and probably would be chased off the planet. ”

    I’m going to disagree on half of that. Angela Bassett? Doubtful. Beyonce? Quite possibly. She’s the flavor of the moment, and a lot of people make money off of her. Owners of music venues, music company execs, video directors, etc. I doubt they’d let their cash cow be ruined.

  105. SB is looking pretty ugly to me right now. But I agree with Kate, we don’t know her crimes yet. White supremist? Wouldn’t be surprised. Emotionally fragile person in denial, desperate to keep the family she has professed to love so much? Could be that too. Those are both versions of deeply flawed humans, deserving of criticism, but they are not the same.

    You’re conflating several things.

    My interest is only in the how SB is being framed for the silence. I have no interest in her personal life or what is in her heart. I’ve already made up my mind, because honestly I don’t share the notion you can just not notice you’re married to a heat seeking bigot. It’s not the kind of thing bigots can hide, since they’re usually not that clever.

    Now the ability of white folks to detect these things, is another matter entirely. Just because white folks aren’t able to smell the burning race fail doesn’t denote its absence. So the fact that some white folks can’t see it is of NO interest to me and it’s a pretty embarrassing argument to put forth on a site where people are always really good about focusing on the subtle ways of fat hatred.

    major intersectionality fail going on here. It’s pretty sad actually.

  106. So you’ve all seen every single photo taken of your partner over the years? Every single one?

    I haven’t seen every picture taken of my friends and family. But I still know which of them are racist, and to what extent. Because racists don’t hide this kind of thing from other white people. Or at least not from other white people they feel comfortable around. I think it’s very unlikely she didn’t know.

    Now just because she likely knew doesn’t necessarily mean she condoned it, maybe she thought she could change him, people do stupid things for love. But it’s reasonable to wonder. Especially given that she has yet to make a statement.

  107. This is in response to a few comments upthread, I’m a slowbie.

    There are women out there who do not have the power to choose who they associate with. There are women in poverty, and women whose relationships turn abusive, and women whose options are limited by strict societal, familial, or religious obligations. It is completely not OK to judge a woman who wasn’t able to choose her partner based on her partner’s actions or beliefs.

    As far as we know, Sandra Bullock is not in this position. She can decide who she associates with. She can set limits on what kind of behavior she’ll put up with. And while she isn’t culpable for the sketchy behavior or opinions of people she chooses to spend time with, it’s totally fair to question whether she agrees with them. Even if she didn’t know. Because if she DID know, this would mean she either 1) approved of or agreed with the sketchy behavior or opinions, or 2) decided that the sketchy behavior or opinions weren’t a big enough deal to justify ending a close relationship with that person.

    And if she thinks fascism, racism, and dog-fighting are great, or aren’t deal breakers, that says something about her.

    Nobody is saying that she’s just Jesse James 2.0, Actress Edition, mirroring him in every way. Nobody is saying Sandra B definitely agrees with Jesse James, or that she needs to put out a statement saying “I AM NOT A NAZI! NAZIS ARE BAD! I DON’T LIKE THEM!”

    Just that she isn’t immune to questioning.

  108. Beyonce? Quite possibly. She’s the flavor of the moment, and a lot of people make money off of her. Owners of music venues, music company execs, video directors, etc. I doubt they’d let their cash cow be ruined.

    Okay, look. Calling Beyonce a cash cow is totally dehumanizing. It is undeniably true that many people profit from her fame and work, but let’s not take that to mean she has no agency whatsoever.

    I’m just going to echo Snarky: if it’s not the case that her husband was living some kind of double life and deceiving her outright — if we’re not talking about Bullock being completely blindsided by her husband being a horrible, horrible man — then I really have no sympathy for the “maybe she just didn’t notice her husband was a fucking Nazi sympathizer” argument. Yeah, a lot of white folks have racist relatives, because there is a lot of racism out there. But it’s not like you don’t notice when one of your relatives is virulently racist.

  109. One more thing:

    The danger in giving SB the benefit of the doubt is the same danger that allows masses of people to look away when genocide is going down. I get that.

    However, recognizing that there are a number of possible explanations of SB doesn’t excuse, for one minute, the failure of the gossip mags, the media, and everyone else to have screamed:

    “WHAT THE FUCK, SANDRA, WHAT THE FUCK???!!!”

    Just because human nature is complex and we can have personal compassion for people who are weak, but possibly not evil, does not mean that the hint of scary-dreadful ideologies shouldn’t be immediately, vocally and angrily challenged.

    My original post congratulated Kate on nailing this point in her piece but I didn’t explicitly come out and emphasize that I agreed with it—to me this is the main thing.

    I think there is a horrifying failure of people to hold others accountable for horrifying ideologies. Yeah SB damn well better come out on the right side of things, but she’s just one person. A never-ending argument about is-she/isn’t-she tastes a little vulgar because… I don’t know, it’s kind of the same prurient bullshit as Jen vs Angelina. Kate’s outrage is rightly placed… who really gives a crap about SB when the wide-scale mildly tolerant behavior of society is the really dangerous thing?

  110. To snarkysmachine:

    SB is looking pretty ugly to me right now. But I agree with Kate, we don’t know her crimes yet. White supremist? Wouldn’t be surprised. Emotionally fragile person in denial, desperate to keep the family she has professed to love so much? Could be that too. Those are both versions of deeply flawed humans, deserving of criticism, but they are not the same.

    >>You’re conflating several things.

    >>My interest is only in the how SB is being framed for the silence. I have no interest in her personal life or what is in her heart. I’ve already made up my mind, because honestly I don’t share the notion you can just not notice you’re married to a heat seeking bigot. It’s not the kind of thing bigots can hide, since they’re usually not that clever.

    Well I posted another point—because I felt like we were diving down some rabbit hole and the importance of the main point was being overlooked—before I read this response of yours.

    If I understand you correctly, then we agree on more than you think. Namely, that the Real Issue is how the media/society should be demanding an explanation for utterly despicable behavior. (From SB, sure, from JJ, whatever, this shit is unacceptable.)

  111. Can we talk about what words like “condone” and “tolerate” mean?

    Because the idea that not saying/doing anything about it doesn’t mean she condoned it is kind of… um… contradictory. That’s what condoning is. Letting something pass. Letting something slide. There’s no difference between “letting something slide” and “merely not doing anything to stop something from sliding”. Really. There isn’t.

    Condoning racism because you think you can “catch more flies with honey” or because you think this particular instance of it is harmless enough to be less important than your unconditional love or because you really think racism is bad but there’s a chance that something else might be at play and it would be horribly unfair to call somebody racist when they’re not is still condoning racism.

    Sure, somebody may have Super Really Important reasons for condoning racism (“if I point out what my boss is saying, I’ll be out of a job and it won’t change her mind any” ), and they’re going to be in damned good company… because so does everybody else who’s doing it. We live in a world of real people, not cartoon supervillains. People generally do do things for reasons.

    And that’s what all this impulse “to be fair” is really about. Because if someone else doesn’t get a pass for their reasons, we don’t get a pass. If they can experience the horror of being called racist (or even having it said that they participated in a racist action or said something with racist implications), then we could be called racist. *dramatic thunder crash*

    Sincerely,
    A White Lady Who Benefits From Privilege, Has Said Racist Things, Participated In Racist Systems, Written Racefail, Silently Condoned Racism, And Will Doubtlessly Do All Of Those Things Again In Her Life Despite Her Efforts To The Contrary.

  112. Now the ability of white folks to detect these things, is another matter entirely. Just because white folks aren’t able to smell the burning race fail doesn’t denote its absence. So the fact that some white folks can’t see it is of NO interest to me and it’s a pretty embarrassing argument to put forth on a site where people are always really good about focusing on the subtle ways of fat hatred.

    Oh come on, you care A LOT about how people fail to notice racism. Um, this is what we’re talking about. The complex and pernicious ways that people fuck up when it comes to race.

    Obviously, people of privilege are not attuned to racism the way they ought to be in a perfect world (a perfect world without racism). My pointing out that SB may be one of those people who have chosen denial over being a stand-up human is not me giving her a pass. It’s pointing out—as you have just done—that THESE PEOPLE EXIST.

    And insofar as we care about racism, we have to do the heavy lifting to talk about its complexity. (Though: read my other point about this maybe not being the most important issue on the table right now.) Reducing racism can only happen in increments (unless you have a magic wand), and so I think pointing out the incremental ways people can commit a race fail, as you say, is important. Being snarkily* dismissive = annoying.

    *yeah, I know.

    major intersectionality fail going on here. It’s pretty sad actually.

    Well, thanks for that.

  113. Snarkysmachine:

    I don’t recall saying I disagreed with you.

    Oh. Well the “pretty embarrassing argument” and the “major intersectionality fail” sounded like you disagreed.

    The world would spin faster on its axis if we combined our powers, that much I’m sure is true.

  114. Oh. Well the “pretty embarrassing argument” and the “major intersectionality fail” sounded like you disagreed.

    That’s a general assessment and it’s not directed at you. My bad.

  115. Oh. Well the “pretty embarrassing argument” and the “major intersectionality fail” sounded like you disagreed.

    >>That’s a general assessment and it’s not directed at you. My bad.

    Oh, all right. Thank you for clarifying.

    I take your “major intersectionality fail” to be referring to how people can be finely tuned to subtle and pernicious fat hatred, but tune out subtle and pernicious race hatred.

    I can see what you mean about this. It reminds me of something… what is it? Oh, yeah. How lots people I know are totally on the right page when it comes to being inclusive and comfortable in, say, a queer world, but ignorant of their ugly sizest attitudes. I knew it rang a bell.

  116. I think Sandra Bullock wanted a bad boy and got more than she planned on. I’m not much of a SB fan, I’m pretty neutral, but I was shocked all to hell when she married this douchebag. However, I’m not in the least bit surprised by his infidelity or his anti-Semitism. That’s pretty much par for the course with bikers, at least with the ones that I’ve personally known. As Snarkysmachine said, “You lay down with dogs you wake up with fleas.”

    Regarding the Nazi memorabilia collecting: I call bullshit on it just being “collecting.” Purchasing Nazi uniforms or weapons fetishizes genocide.

  117. I love in our society that there’s this whole mythology built up that:
    1) White people can’t be racist in this day and age, that shit ended years ago
    2) But if there were racist white people today, they would be very uneducated and poor and Republican and only live in red states
    3) Any POC who accuses a white person of racism is just “being too sensitive”
    4) Any white person who calls out another white person on racism is either “too PC” or “humorless”
    5) Racism is an all or nothing type of thing, if you do/say/think one racist thing in your life, you are on par with history’s biggest racists and you can never be a good person or do good again in your life which means that you can’t let people call you out on your racism
    6) If you are actually accused of racism, as a white person, you have every right to turn that shit around and blame your accuser, because remember, white people can’t be racist nowadays

    The reality is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is racist, nobody gets a pass. And racism is not an all or nothing. We need to drop this idea that it’s only racist if it’s extremist. We all do and say and think offensive things, things we aren’t even always aware are offensive. Hopefully we catch ourselves, but if not, when someone calls us out on it, we need to be able to say, “You’re right, what I did/said/etc. was racist and I’m so sorry. I will work harder at not doing/saying/etc. those things again, thank you for calling me on it,” instead of getting defensive and blaming our accuser. Not owning up to it just excuses our racist behavior, keeps us from being honest or accountable to ourselves and others and keeps us from learning and growing and trying harder in the future which then keeps our society from making any headway in terms of actually becoming less racist.

  118. Regarding the Nazi memorabilia collecting: I call bullshit on it just being “collecting.” Purchasing Nazi uniforms or weapons fetishizes genocide.

    Yeah, what the fucking hell. I can’t see people who have descended from victims of genocide wanting to collect such things as reminders of the atrocities that were committed. Half of my family is Jewish and THEY don’t own any Nazi memorabilia (shocking, right?). I just don’t see how that could possibly be justifiable.

    I’ve been fall-over-drunk, I’ve been stupid drunk, and during one particularly unhealthy summer, I’ve been black-out drunk. I have unadvisedly confessed romantic thoughts that I shouldn’t have while drunk, I’ve had sex I probably shouldn’t have while drunk, and I’ve engaged in highly unflattering dance moves while drunk.

    I’ve never made light of the genocide of over six million human beings while drunk. Not once.

    THANK YOU for writing this. Talk about bullshit excuses. I’ve been pretty ridiculous while drunk too, but NEVER made any prejudiced “jokes” of any sort. Hehehe I’d like to think that *I* don’t dance unflatteringly while drunk, but who is to say . . .

  119. There’s no difference between “letting something slide” and “merely not doing anything to stop something from sliding”. Really. There isn’t.

    Alexandra Erin, have I ever told you that I love you? Because I do.

  120. Well said, Kate. I think it’s BS that people are commenting like Kate of all people is being anti-feminist, because, um…no. This is about the fact that SB (who I certainly have nothing against) is being treated like some sort of untouchable, sacrosanct idol by the media and a lot of the Internet Commentariat right now, and how it’s because she’s a Nice White Lady, which gives her a pass that a WOC very likely wouldn’t get were she in the same situation. Which is sucky, and totally unfair, as Kate so eloquently pointed out. It’s not so much about SB personally, it’s about the fact that we as a society still let this kind of racist fuckery go on. I’m a well-intentioned white girl. I can’t say that I’ve never said/done anything racist in my life, despite my best efforts to the contrary. I can say that if I did something that was dubious, I would want someone to call me out on it so I wouldn’t do it again. Snuffycup basically said everything I would like to say about racism in modern society, except a million times more eloquently than I ever could have expressed it. Kudos to you, Snuffycup.

  121. I hope this isn’t too much of a diversion in the conversation. I started pondering in the last few minutes whether people would even accuse Kate of victim-blaming if this picture hadn’t come out in concert with an infidelity scandal. What if the picture was the only scandal? Would people be seeing SB as a victim them? Is any woman who marries a guy who’s a douchebag a victim if she (hypothetically) didn’t know about his douchebaggery?

    As someone who has been subject to the infidelity of a long-term and trusted partner, I guess I don’t feel like I’ve been a victim. I understand the interpretation of infidelity as a form of emotional abuse but I don’t know if I agree with it. I feel like it’s disingenuous to draw a direct comparison between a rape victim or “battered wife” and a woman whose partner has been unfaithful to her.

    Just wondering if the situation is being looked at solely for “JJ is a racist/Nazi piece of crap and SB was married to him for several years” without the addition of “poor SB was cheated on by that piece of crap so she’s a victim of his every crappiness!”

  122. No, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think it’s funny to dress up in the finest of Romper Stompery either.

    Right? And if you found out he did–okay, maybe this is me projecting what I would do, but you know–you’d be the first one out of the gate saying “THIS MAN DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME, I DO NOT ENDORSE THIS BULLSHIT.”

    I’m not even sure that wouldn’t come before the break-up.

  123. Yeah, I’m not seeing how having a cheating spouse is analogy to a DV relationship. Yes, infidelity is often a component of DV, but it is not in and of itself DV.

  124. And no, they aren’t going to talk to YOU about it because if they did, they’d be an Angry Black Woman who, if you were recounting *that* story, would have humiliated and embarrassed you in front of other customers

    You’re assuming I would classify her as such because of her race. Thanks for that.

  125. Whether the Nazis thought of Jews as “white” is actually an interesting question, and very relevant to the discussion here.

    The short answer is: No, they did not. Aryan supremacy meant something very specific, and merely being WASP was not enough; gay and disabled WASPS, for example, didn’t count as part of the “master race” either. The Aryan ideal is frighteningly close, then, to the Hollywood beauty ideal, which (and as a Jew I hate to say this, but it needs to be said) was largely created and is still reinforced by self-hating Jews, who sought and largely still seek to expunge any trace of ethnicity (or disability or gayness, for that matter) from popular performers, save for a few tokens. (Mel Brooks and Woody Allen and Lauren Bacall didn’t change their names by accident, y’know.)

    You’d think that as a Jewish woman, I’d be horribly offended by all this. Instead, I just roll my eyes. Yeah, this Jesse James (shit, even his stage name!) is a cobag. Is he more of a Jew-hater than anyone else in Hollywood? I have my doubts that it’s anything more than a question of degree. So Bullock standing up and denouncing him, to me, would feel like nothing more than empty verbiage.

    But yes, I agree that as America’s (White) Sweetheart, she’s treated by a different set of standards than even most white female celebrities could ever dream of, and that only a white woman (and a WASP at that) could ever ascend to her ranks. (Can you imagine the shit Barbra Streisand would get if it had been James Brolin?)

  126. You’re assuming I would classify her as such because of her race. Thanks for that.

    I’m not sure which fight or which dog, but all I can say is if you’re looking for sympathy it’s between shit and syphilis.

    Cause you’re sounding awfully hurt about the legitimate assumptions folks might make about the ways in which white folks behave when discussing an experience (racism) they aren’t likely to ever have and it’s fucking tedious. so please, move it along.

    That’s me as a MOD. kthx.

  127. DRST – point missed. I didn’t say I was treated differently because of my skin color. And I never said this woman hadn’t experienced racism. In fact she was older, so she probably experienced it worse and more overtly than younger people have. HOWEVER, I take issue with her questioning my character instead of my actions in a way that could very well have cost me my job. And because of that experience I began looking at the conclusions we jump to whenever something unfavorable happens.

    If someone mistreats me, it may be my first gut reaction to go “they don’t like me because I’m fat.” But I choose to take a step back and actually think about the situation and I realize, no, more likely they were in a shitty mood for some reason and I was in the way of that.

    I believe it’s called the fundamental attribution error – where we forgive actions in ourselves based on situations but we attribute actions to sweeping personality characteristics in others.

    And again, I won’t say that this picture is anything other than moronic, douchey, horrifying and disgusting. But I’m not going to sweepingly generalize his character based on a single photo. And I could be wrong – it could come out in more ways that he’s a racist asshat.

    But I will NOT throw around the term “racist” based on a single piece of evidence.

  128. And I wouldn’t want my principles to cause anyone any undue shame, so no, Liza-the-second and I are not the same person.

  129. If someone mistreats me, it may be my first gut reaction to go “they don’t like me because I’m fat.” But I choose to take a step back and actually think about the situation and I realize, no, more likely they were in a shitty mood for some reason and I was in the way of that.

    Good for you. One day when those of use who deal with -isms hope to be as enlightened as you.

    And again, I won’t say that this picture is anything other than moronic, douchey, horrifying and disgusting. But I’m not going to sweepingly generalize his character based on a single photo. And I could be wrong – it could come out in more ways that he’s a racist asshat.

    You are wrong. Sit with that for a moment. Also, realize nobody gives a shit what you as a person not DIRECTLY affected by the actions feels about it. Nor are shits given if you don’t feel it’s racist enough to meet your rigorous standards. So GIVE IT A REST. Or I’ll do it for you.

    But I will NOT throw around the term “racist” based on a single piece of evidence.

    Again, who cares about what you would or would not throw around? I mean seriously? Do you actually have some lived experience with racism?

  130. Liza, dear christ, I’m going to tell you something important, when you do something (your intent really doesn’t matter, no one can read your mind) that comes across as racist or whatever the fuck ism that you might or I might come across as 50 times a day no one has to give you the benefit of the doubt. That’s just fucking fact, ok?

    Now, since you seem to be unwilling to listen well, I’ll give you more. People might not give you the benefit of the doubt because they’ve done it before and they got BURNED. Someone did something they thought might be -ist, right? And they went, well let’s just think about this for a second, maybe I’m jumping to conclusion, right? Then later they find out shit fucking fuck fuck, that person is an asshole, he/she kicks puppies and hates anyone who isn’t him/herself. And it happens again and again and again, until that person learns that in order to protect themselves they can’t ever give anyone the benefit of the doubt, they’ve been kicked too many times. So when you act like a douche, they act like you’re racist, and I know that hurt your poor little feelings, but basically get the fuck over it, and learn to fix it right fucking off. Don’t act like a douche, and don’t act like your hurt over being called a racist is bigger than someone’s on the recieving end of racism.

    I mean, for real, have you not read the article or any of the following comments?

  131. Seriously, this is total bullshit. Making up fucking stories to back your points? Constant ‘oh but we don’t know’ doesn’t negate the ’she must have known’ or the ‘why isn’t she saying something’.

    What? Where am I making up stories?

  132. First off: I’m a privileged White girl who is a SB fangirl (mainly because she’s generally funny and brunette and snorted-when-she-laughed-in-that-movie-that-time. I haven’t seen all, or probably most of her movies, so that might disqualify me from the “fangirl” status. But seriously, While You Were Sleeping is cute, and while Miss Congeniality suffers from a ton of various failtypes, I still love it. Anyways.). Just wanted to get that out up front.

    Second off: I’m tired, so this might get incoherent or poorly spelled or silly. I don’t know which.

    I don’t feel that SB owes anyone a statement at this point. I do think that it is rather…um…interesting that no one, from tabloids to “real” media, has said “HEY! WTF??!?!?!?!?!” about the Nazi picture. That’s a fair question to be asked; hell, if my best friend’s SO pulled something like that, I’d definately say “WHOA! WTF?!?!?!?!” and possibly smack them around if their reaction was any less “WTF-y” than mine was. SB can choose to respond to it however she wants to; I would hope that it would be with some form of distancing herself from that sort of behavior and mindset.

    If anyone else were in this situation, man, woman, POC or not, and they were called out on it and badgered to answer ALL QUESTIONS NOW, I would automatically say “Hey, give them a second!” Because I think that a bit of time to deal with shock is important.

    And if there is no shock about that, then Eff them.

    I get the distinct impression that the main reason SB’s not being called out on this is not just because she’s a Nice White Lady (which I hope is different than being a nice white lady, which I try to be..well, I try to be nice, and often fail, but I am, indeed, a white lady), but because she’s the media’s Nice White Lady. You know, the one that every Liberal I know points to as their “I’m White, she’s White, and she was in that movie with the Black kid and that’s something I’d totally do, y’all” person. SB’s been the media’s darling for years because she’s, like, totes an EveryWoman who does really awesome things that prove that -ism’s don’t exist! And what happens if they call her out for being anything but? I imagine they think it wouldn’t be a good thing for them in some way.

    Shit, did that make sense?

    I had another thought…. but I lost it. Fuckernuts.

  133. “I’m not sure which fight or which dog, but all I can say is if you’re looking for sympathy it’s between shit and syphilis. ”

    SnM, have you copyrighted this one, or can we all feel free to use it the next time we need to deploy a particularly badass remark? Srsly–made. of. awesome.

    Drunkenness is not an excuse. Adulterousness/being cheated on/whatever not an excuse. It’s Pesach and I’m tetchy, HELLS YES I AM. *Someone* should have made a bloody statement.

    *waves matzah crankily in air*

  134. @ Meowser
    “The Aryan ideal is frighteningly close, then, to the Hollywood beauty ideal, which (and as a Jew I hate to say this, but it needs to be said) was largely created and is still reinforced by self-hating Jews, who sought and largely still seek to expunge any trace of ethnicity (or disability or gayness, for that matter) from popular performers, save for a few tokens. (Mel Brooks and Woody Allen and Lauren Bacall didn’t change their names by accident, y’know.)”

    Woooo mama—do we really want to be putting that canard out there? I’m not saying there isn’t a grain of truth to it, because there IS. I mean, lord knows there But it isn’t that simple, and do we want to be talking about it like that –so casually? The ugly thinking behind that is “Jews control Hollywood,” which we all know isn’t true–certainly not in any sort of organized or total sense.

    And forgive me if I am VERY VERY WARY–especially this time of year–of any sentence or line of argument which goes BOTH for the “self hating Jews” and the “Jews control X major facet of our economy/entertainment industry/government.”

  135. This post – and the discussion about the level of racist speech or action required in order for someone to be called on their racially-problematic shit – strike a nerve with me right now.

    I’m currently trying to get my SO to talk to his sister about some “I’m-not-racist-but…” bullshit she came up with while she was a guest in my goddamn home (I was too shocked to say much of anything at the time, and he wouldn’t let me have her number). He won’t, because it might hurt her feelings, that she’d think we were casting aspersions on her character. And she might sulk and refuse to speak to him.

    That’s right sports fans, her fee-fees are being privileged over my right to create a safe space for my multicoloured self in my own home. Because my hurt and offense at hearing those sentiments expressed in my own living room are no match for the potential injuries inflicted upon my SO’s sister as a result of being told that what she said was Not Okay. That what she said *was* racist. Because racism shouldn’t make her whiter-than-me arse uncomfortable.

    I’m not sure where I sit re. Sandra Bullock’s silence, but I *think* that if it were me, I would try and distance myself from that photo and JJ’s “humour” or whateverthefuckhewasthinking.

  136. if you’re looking for sympathy it’s between shit and syphilis.

    That’s Sedaris, who probably lifted it from someone else. But feel free to add your own flourishes to it.

  137. @Liza – You seem far more offended at the fact that this customer mistook your reasons for providing poor service to her than you are apologetic for the poor service you provided.

  138. On a general note, I think the fact that we pretty much CANNOT talk about race in this country because, if we try, all that happens is that 95% of the white people present put their fingers in their ears and start singing “La la la! We don’t see race!” or declaring that the person who brought race up in the first place is a racist and therefore the discussion is over, means that we are not going to be able to have any sort of meaningful political discussions, period, since it’s becoming glaring obvious that–especially at the moment–EVERYTHING has to do with race at a very basic level.

    As to the Bullock issue, I’m constantly surprised at how many people do not consider the political/ideological views of their partners a deal breaker. My husband and I disagree about many, many things. But, while we have certain specific policy issues we have minor disagreements about, when it comes to basic political and ideological commitments, we’re in agreement. To me, it’s a dealbreaker. But, I know so many women–including my sister and a few good friends–who are married to or in serious relationships with men who are racist, homophobic, or have other political/ideological leanings I find completely reprehensible. And these are not women who share those views, but for some reason they have no problem being in a relationship with somebody who holds them. I do not get it. At all. But, they just don’t talk politics with their husband/boyfriend, and apparently have no problem with that.

    I suppose to some extent I can understand. My husband and I have very different views on religion. I’m an Episcopalian, he’s an atheist. We don’t generally talk about religion, and we just accept that we don’t agree. And, that’s fine with both of us. But, it still seems different to me than being married to somebody who holds views I consider morally reprehensible rather than just having a difference of opinion. So I guess, on second thought, I don’t really understand.

    But, it’s definitely, in my experience, a relatively common phenomenon for women to be in relationships with men who have political and ideological views the woman vehemently disagrees with, but somehow just overlooks, even when it’s something as completely heinous as the man being a raging bigot. I don’t know, maybe many people are just conditioned to think that somebody’s views on “political” issues are somehow separate from what kind of person they are, as if you can hold to a really hateful ideology but not be a terrible person. And I suppose to some extent that’s true, or I’d like to think that’s true, but I also can’t understand being in a relationship with that person.

  139. Oh, and to add, my husband’s take on it is that maybe it’s just that so many men are racist, homophobic assholes that women aren’t really left with many choices. Which I really hope is not the case.

  140. Lori, I think it might, in some cases, also have something to do with the societal pressure placed on women not to be “picky” or too demanding when it comes to their partners/potential partners.

  141. Woooo mama—do we really want to be putting that canard out there? I’m not saying there isn’t a grain of truth to it, because there IS. I mean, lord knows there But it isn’t that simple, and do we want to be talking about it like that –so casually? The ugly thinking behind that is “Jews control Hollywood,” which we all know isn’t true–certainly not in any sort of organized or total sense.

    Right, in the sense that Hollywood Jews have never really “controlled” anything as such — they’ve just internalized the WASP chauvinism of those ranking higher in SES whose acceptance they seek, so they’re obviously not reinforcing said beauty standards in a vacuum. That’s why I kind of hesitated to type that. But I’d also be remiss if I didn’t notice that many of our staunchest and most influential purveyors of WASP chauvinism aren’t WASPs themselves.

  142. “And that’s what all this impulse “to be fair” is really about. Because if someone else doesn’t get a pass for their reasons, we don’t get a pass. If they can experience the horror of being called racist (or even having it said that they participated in a racist action or said something with racist implications), then we could be called racist”

    YES!!! This this this. Alexandra Erin, I am in awe and this little nugget of truthiness is going to be looping through my noggin for a long time.

  143. Can some of you just acknowledge the fact that there are not just one, but many pieces of evidence that Jesse James may be a racist prick and all-around Nazi sympathizer d-bag? There’s 1. the Heil Hitler photo which, besides having his awful pose in it, 2. also has what looks like either a Nazi war plane or a plane with his West Coast Choppers logo on it in the background (and wow, 3. the West Coast Choppers logo sure is Nazi-ish!). There’s 4. the fact that he was boning a woman who did a photo shoot in a Sexy Nazi outfit while licking a knife and wearing what may well be the very same hat he wore in that photo. There’s also the fact that 5. this woman is alleged BY HER FRIENDS to have had white power tattoos on her legs and stomach. There’s 6. the alleged surfboard with Hitler on it in his office, there’s the 7. workplace rape/sexual harassment lawsuit that was settled out of court years ago (not about race, but definitely about power), there’s the fact that 8. many of his friends are coming forward (anonymously, but still coming forward) and saying that he is racist, and 9. there is the sheer outrageousness of the size of his cheating game, which indicates that he’s got a serious power trip thing going on. If you put all of this together (sure, eliminate 4, 5 and 9, but the rest must stay), and it’s pretty preposterous to think that Sandy B had no stinking clue that her husband was a piece of shit racist. She may very well have been in an abusive situation, blinded by love, etc, but I don’t feel sorry for her in that regard.

    Now think about it like this- the best case/benefit of the doubt scenario, it sounds like, is that he was “making a joke”. If you were dragged to a party by someone and you discovered, to your horror, that there was a Nazi hat lying on the piano next to a plate of hor d’oeuvres, would you a) leave the party, b) keep your disgust to yourself and manage to be on your best behavior throughout the evening despite being horrified by the hat, c) demand to know whose Nazi hat that is and throw a big fuss about it, or d) put the hat on, Heil Hitler, and ask someone to take your picture? If you picked d), congratulations! YOU ARE A RACIST!

  144. Kate: [i]If she’s not thinking about her own PR right now, other people should be. And if they don’t think that photo demands a comment — which perhaps they don’t, since she is, in fact being given the NWL benefit of the doubt for the most part — that is what’s really fucked up here.[/i]

    yeah, pretty much this. I doubt the problem is that Bullock’s PR people are incompetent–the fact is, they are probably more than competent enough to realize that the basic rules that apply to damage control for a scandal (distance your client from the bad stuff early and often) just aren’t as urgent when it comes to a racism-related scandal if your client is a famous Nice White Lady. Because, in that case, the public–at least, the white public–is going to be [i]doing your work for you[/i] in distancing your client from the bad stuff. Because they WANT to distance her from the bad stuff. Because if their favorite Nice White Lady could be implicated in racist shit, then what does that say about [i]them?[/i] They don’t want to believe it of themselves and so they won’t believe it of her unless shit gets REALLY bad (i.e., evidence of her participating in this stuff herself and not just the unproven but hardly-unreasonable assumption that she was not totally unaware of what kind of person her husband is, and a lot of them would probably still be in denial even then).

    And sure, I get that there might be good legal reasons for her to be keeping her mouth shut given that whatever she says could affect how her divorce shakes out, but again, if this were another scandal where issues of bigotry weren’t at play, I could see her PR people talking to her lawyers and saying, look, her career depends on people having a positive opinion of her, she needs to say SOMETHING, can you help us craft some language that wouldn’t be likely to have a bad effect on the proceedings? The fact that this doesn’t look like it’s happening says, again, yeah, this stuff isn’t being treated the way a scandal free of racist implications would be.

    In a world where white people involved in race-related scandals were given no more benefit of the doubt than those involved in other scandals (and no more benefit of the doubt than POC involved in any type of scandal), it would make perfect sense to ask, “yeah, Sandy hasn’t said anything about how hateful this is and how she doesn’t endorse it at all, what are her PR people smoking?” But we don’t live in that world. The better question, then, is “yeah, Sandy hasn’t said anything about how hateful this is and how she doesn’t endorse it at all, what’s wrong with ALL OF US that nobody seems to think she should have to?”

  145. I’ve read through this thread with increasing fascination and distress. I don’t see that Sandra Bullock has done anything wrong except have lousy taste in husbands. I have never heard of her saying or doing anything racist herself, and I’d rather judge her on her own behaviour than on the behaviour of the creep she married. She’s not the one in the picture. Shouldn’t James be the one making the statement?

  146. Kly, it’s like this. I would rather not live in a society where questions about “how much did she know/HOW could she not notice/WHY has she not issued a statement denouncing this??” are asked right now of a human being who is clearly suffering. I think those questions are fucked up, very heavily gendered, and that Sandra Bullock doesn’t owe me or anyone else a statement or even a second thought just now, because for all I know she’s curled up on the bathroom floor crying, which is where I would be, except I would also be sedated because if I wasn’t my OCD would mean that the thought of my husband having condomless foursomes with other people would have me clawing my own skin off with my bare hands. Right? Right.

    HOWEVER, and this is the important thing: we do live in a society where those questions are asked. We live in a society that rips people (especially women) apart for being associated with scandal of this magnitude. We have an entire section of the press devoted to asking the most intrusive, uncompassionate questions imaginable, and publishing endless speculation on the answers, no matter whose lives they destroy in the process. But they aren’t doing that in this case. Do you think they’ve suddenly grown a conscience? Because I don’t think that’s the answer here.

    So the question Kate is asking isn’t “how much did she know/how could she not notice/why has she not issued a statement?!?”, it’s why is no one else asking these things? And the answer is, unquestionably, racism. Sandra Bullock is a nice white lady who seems like a fun person and so everyone’s supposed to assume she must be as shocked and horrified by all this as anyone else. Except, she was married to this guy. So, when you think about it, that’s a really weird assumption to make. Why are we all expected to make it?

    This isn’t about condemning SB. It’s about asking why people who make a LIVING condemning people in very similar situations to hers aren’t doing it this time. And why publicists whose job it is to distance their clients from scandal aren’t rushing to do that either. And asking what that tells us about the culture we live in and its attitude to race.

  147. You know… my parents had a pretty shitty marriage. And my mother said to me the other day, in relation to an argument about housework between my aunt and uncle, “you know, he should be doing more — but in a way, you also make them [i.e. partners] the way they are. That’s what happened with your father and me, and I have to take responsibility for it.”

    If I were going to look at my parent’s marriage and say, “hmm, who was the bad guy there?”, I would have to say that it was my father, for a lot of reasons. But my mother is right, that she let a lot of it happen, and at times I’m really livid with her about that too. But the line is SO HARD to pin down. It’s not her fault that my dad is a shit, but it might be her fault that she MARRIED him, and was with him for something like 25 years. It’s not her fault that he consistently undermined her self-esteem — but then, maybe it is, too, because she let him. And I say “maybe” because I actually don’t know.

    Setting aside JJ’s specific transgressions, I have to say that for me, the question that comes up here is that of personal responsibility in choosing a mate. And from the outside, we can never really know what the dynamic was. But — I have to object to the whole “she must not have known, poor thing” line because, frankly, it’s infantilizing. And my mom, albeit with 20/20 hindsight, is right. Stuff like this — on some level, you let it happen.

    And I’m going to have to agree 100% that “she must not have known, poor thing” is a line that gets used almost exclusively on white women. If you started saying things like this about non-white women, you’d be suggesting that, in our pleasant postracial society, they don’t simply bring their own suffering upon themselves, right? It’d be like saying that poor people are poor not because they’re lazy, but because there’s a whole system designed to keep them poor. We can call nice white ladies victims without unsettling anything. And, handily, we can call them victims while reinforcing ideas about masculine power and feminine subordination, or about masculine virility and feminine innocence.

    Anyway, if when I am 48 I discover that I married a serial-cheating white supremacist, but didn’t notice — because of my ladybrain, which made it astonishingly easy for him to hide these things from me, and because of my sweet and innocent white-lady feminine nature, and, let’s say, flurries of post-cuddlesandsmoochingbutnopettingoranything oxytocin — I’ll admit that I was grossly misinformed by my dear mother. And if, when that happens, people tell my pallid self that I’m a dimwit and should have bleeding well known better, I’ll admit that I’m wrong about my reading of the race issue.

  148. Anyway, if when I am 48 I discover that I married a serial-cheating white supremacist, but didn’t notice — because of my ladybrain, which made it astonishingly easy for him to hide these things from me, and because of my sweet and innocent white-lady feminine nature, and, let’s say, flurries of post-cuddlesandsmoochingbutnopettingoranything oxytocin — I’ll admit that I was grossly misinformed by my dear mother.

    Bullock was only married to James for 4-1/2 years, though, and I’d assume that during a lot of that time she was on location shooting movies. Given that, I definitely don’t think she can be blamed for somehow helping to create his behavior, and it’s somewhat understandable why she wouldn’t realize the extent of his white supremacist views.

    That’s not to say she must not have had an inkling, or that it’s fine and dandy to marry a guy who you think it just kinda racist (as opposed to an outright Nazi sympathizer). But given the brief time they were married and that they were probably apart for much of it, I don’t think she can in any way be responsible for his behavior, even if she’s certainly responsible for staying with him.

  149. As with Prince Harry dressing in a Nazi uniform for a party, Mr. James’ behaviour (in the photo) is, at the very least, stupid. It is also anti-semetic, callous, and open to a range of interpretations. What his personal beliefs are, well, we don’t know, although the photo is rather indicative of them.
    However, none of this has anything to do with Ms. Bullock. She is, no doubt, still dealing with the issue of her husband’s infidelity, and the ending of, not only her marriage, but also her role as step-mother to children she had clearly come to love.
    This is a horrible time for her, and to have, some no doubt well-meaning, others very much not so, individuals asking for/demanding a statement on Mr. James’ behaviour, is simply adding insult to grevious injury.
    This woman is an actress, not a politician or a member of clergy or some sort of leader who must be above reproach. She is an actress, and while famous, rich, beautiful etc, etc, she is a human being who is in pain, at a life-changing crossroad, and her first AND ONLY responsibility is to herself.
    None of us can justify poking and prying into her pain simply because she’s famous, nor can we, in good conscience, demand anything of her.
    Her fame does not grant us carte blanche.
    As a feminist, my wish for Ms. Bullock is the time and space necessary for her to find healing, balance and a sense of personal safety. Anything she may eventually have to say, on any subject, should be at her discretion, not mine, not yours, hers.

  150. Wow, this whole Sandra thing just keeps getting worse. It’s like a katamari of suck. I swear I see panda bears.

    That said, I’m with Kate Harding on this one.

  151. But, I know so many women–including my sister and a few good friends–who are married to or in serious relationships with men who are racist, homophobic, or have other political/ideological leanings I find completely reprehensible. And these are not women who share those views, but for some reason they have no problem being in a relationship with somebody who holds them. I do not get it. At all. But, they just don’t talk politics with their husband/boyfriend, and apparently have no problem with that.

    You know what? I know people like that, too. I’m related to some of them, and I love some of them. But here’s the thing: If they’re aware of it and choose to ignore it, then to some extent, they do share those views.

    Bear with me, because this is exactly where people get hung up. WHAT? SHE’S NOT RACIST! No, not in the active bigot sense. Maybe not even in the “consciously thinks bad thoughts about people who aren’t white” sense. But it comes back to what Alexandra Erin said upthread about condoning. If you don’t see it as a dealbreaker? You’re condoning it. (Yes, there are lots of reasons why someone might not be able to get divorced, so when I say “dealbreaker,” I’m not saying that’s the only appropriate response, although it’s probably the ideal one. Also, ftr, at least among the people I’m talking about every one of them knew before they got married.) We’re not talking about someone with a bad habit or annoying quirk. We’re talking about someone who hates groups of people. And if you can reduce that, in your mind, to a bad habit or an annoying quirk and still muster the respect necessary to marry an open bigot? You are condoning their behavior. And that, in itself, is racist. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a terrible person, but it sure does mean you’ve forfeited the right to say “I’m not at all like that.” Because if you weren’t at all like that, you would not have been able to stomach marrying someone who is very much like that.

    And not being able to call that what it is — to acknowledge that racism is perpetuated not only by the people who proudly hate, but by their loved ones who brush it aside, and their loved ones’ loved ones, who insist that the first set of loved ones have nothing to do with racism, and by people who swear they aren’t racist but still think racist jokes are funny in private, and by people who think “racist” is too serious a charge to level at anyone in the absence of evidence that would hold up in court — is basically what I’m talking about in this post. As long as we’re only willing to hold blatant, unapologetic racists accountable for their behavior, and the default is to make excuses for everyone else — their Nice White partners, their friends who detest their beliefs but never say anything, that guy who’s made a few racist jokes but is Really Not Like That, that woman who has No Problem with People of Color but thinks all this PC language and sensitivity shit is annoying and ridiculous, etc. — we’re actively taking part in keeping this culture racist. We are being racist.

    Which is exactly why people say things like “We are all racist.” I’m not speaking as a paragon of anti-racism here; I’m speaking as someone who’s made those excuses for loved ones, who’s rolled my eyes and walked away instead of confronting people talking shit, who’s felt annoyed by challenges to my language or my privilege, who’s sat in many a room full of white people and never thought twice about the lack of POC, who’s taken opportunities that might well have been denied to POC without thinking twice about that, either, who’s chosen silence many, many more times than I’ve chosen to speak out — and who will probably continue doing things like that for the rest of my life. Because doing things like that is nearly always the easiest option for a white person, and taking the hard option every time is exhausting.

    But I do try to be aware of when I’m doing it. And I try to be honest about some things where I wasn’t in the past. Like, for instance, acknowledging that my dad is not a Really Nice Guy Who Loves Everyone and is Totally Non-Racist and just happened to marry a woman who uses the N-word (among other things), because he was old and lonely and he grew up in an era when so many people were openly racist, he doesn’t see it the same way I do. In reality, my dad is a Really Nice Guy who is racist enough that he didn’t see that as a dealbreaker — which, frankly, is pretty fucking racist. He is also the same guy who taught me that racism is bad — albeit not in a very thorough or nuanced way — so no, I don’t think he’s a horrible person, and I haven’t stopped loving him, and although I’ve confronted him and his wife, I most often just hope that the subject doesn’t come up. (Which, since we’re all white, it rarely does. Hooray for privilege.) But I have at least stopped saying she’s racist and he’s not like that. Because he is like that, to some degree, or he would have been so turned off the moment he realized she was like that, he’d have been out of there in a cartoon blur.

    Which is exactly how I’d have been out of there if Al had ever shown me a glimpse of that kind of bigotry when we were dating. And as much as I love him and can’t imagine living without him right now, if I saw a picture of him doing funny Hitler, my reaction would be something like WHAT WHAT WHAT WHO ARE YOU SICK FUCKER GET OUT. (And if I were a public figure and that picture were all over the internet? I would expect people to wonder whether I knew and condoned that shit. And I would not let them wonder for long.) So I just fundamentally do not get the urge to file “condoning racism” under “the crazy things we do for love.” And I think that even if we love people who do that and know in our hearts they are not Bad People in the Scheme of Things, we probably shouldn’t act like they’re not remotely racist, and it’s just some weird fluke that they married active bigots.

  152. Is it just me, or are many commenters overlooking/ignoring Kate’s salient point #1:

    If you are not an Oscar-winning actress or similarly well-known personage, I was not talking about you. I understand that if you don’t routinely get media inquiries about your personal life, you probably do not have people in your employ whose job is to keep the public from thinking poorly of you.

    Bullock is in the business of making public statements. It is how celebrities make money. As a consumer, I don’t care about her marriage, I just want to know whether I need to delete her movies from my Netflix queue like I had to delete John Mayer from my iPod.

  153. OH! I remembered the other thing I was going to say last night.

    While I do find it hard to buy that SB had no idea about any of JJ’s racist leanings, whether they were living together all of the time, or most of the time, or whatever, I don’t find it hard to believe that she’s never seen this particular photo. Fact is, no one, other than a select few people, had seen this picture until however many days ago. And it came to light because whoever had it in their possession said “Oh hey! I can totally make money with this now! And not just a little bit, but a metric fuckton of money because JJ’s been screwing Nazi women!” If the release of this photo were about people saying “Hey, this dude’s a douchenozzle so stop buying his stuff/don’t watch his shows/FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY DON’T MARRY HIM!!!” it would have been released many, many years ago. So I guess that’s more societal fail… ugh.

  154. “you know, he should be doing more — but in a way, you also make them [i.e. partners] the way they are. That’s what happened with your father and me, and I have to take responsibility for it.”

    If, I think I see what you’re saying, but this line of reasoning is also often a pillar of active victim-blaming, so it makes me really uncomfortable. A lot of people who are in emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships feel like they can’t leave precisely because the abuse is all about making them feel powerless, unloveable and dependent. It can also be dangerous to leave a relationship like that, on top of a dozen other practical reasons why it’s incredibly difficult. And women who don’t leave abusers are often accused of bringing it on themselves, of secretly wanting it, of being “just as bad” themselves, of driving him to it — “making him that way” — of not really being victims because if it was that bad, they’d obviously leave, etc.

    So while it’s true that relationships are about the dynamics between two people — and it’s also true that not leaving a (non-abusive) bigot is a different thing from not leaving an abusive relationship — the way power influences that dynamic can be very different from couple to couple. So I wouldn’t extrapolate your mom’s experience to every relationship, because that way lies endorsing old and harmful stereotypes about domestic abuse victims.

  155. This is addressed to all the other white people out there who may, like I have in the past, be thinking to themselves, “I don’t know if this is really as racist as people of color say it is.” Let me tell you something I realized for myself a while ago.

    White people don’t get to define racism. This is kind of like how men don’t get to define sexism, cis people don’t get to define transphobia and rich people don’t get to define classism. When you are on the oppressor end of the situation, any attempt you make to say you’re not sure the oppressed group might be overreacting is perpetuating the oppression involved.

    So I made a rule for myself, which in the course of sometimes-startling checking of my own privilege can be difficult to follow but I try my hardest. The rule is this: if a person of color experiences something as racist, it’s racist.

  156. I had an Uncle who literally couldn’t and wouldn’t stop being a racist. Everytime I saw him he would deliberately yet “jokingly” bring the conversation round to race and verbally battering anyone of a different culture, colour, or religion. He did it from me being about 10 years old and it would always provoke me and we would always have an arguement and I’d always end up so frustrated I wanted to slam his head on the table. Eventually I realised he only did it when he was around me, because he must have enjoyed winding me up, and seeing me go wild – but does that mean he wasnt really a racist? No – I think he just let rip with me because I was younger than everyone else and he could say what he really wanted and get the added bonus of my reaction. It was all a joke for him, but I knew there was a real spite and a profound belief in his only elevated sense of self driving it all. And now? He has a niece he has lost touch with and we havent spoken in years, and never will again. So much for a “joke.”

  157. It was all a joke for him, but I knew there was a real spite and a profound belief in his only elevated sense of self driving it all.

    Yeah, the “it’s just a joke” defense is another thing I really don’t get/buy. (And that’s in addition to how fucked up it is to get a kick out of making a child feel angry and frustrated, knowing she can’t do anything about it.) People like jokes because they’re funny. People who aren’t racist don’t find racist jokes funny. It’s not that complicated.

    Back in the days when people still thought there might be some chance of us loosening up the comments policy around here, I heard so many times (and have heard so many other places) that trolls are no big deal because “They’re just saying anything they can to get a rise out of you. They’ll say anything if they think it’ll get you wound up, even if they don’t believe it.” Which… see above for how FUCKED UP that is to begin with, whether you’re doing it to a child or an adult. If you think it’s entertaining to stir shit just for the sake of watching other people get angry about it, I think you are an asshole. (Yes, even if you’re doing it to people I don’t like or agree with.) So there’s that. Which means, granted, I can’t really fathom the mindset of someone who thinks, “What can I say that will elicit the maximum unpleasant emotional reaction?” as opposed to “What do I want to contribute to this discussion?” — so I can’t exactly speak for those people. But saying racist things with the express goal of stirring shit is, guess what, a racist act! And stirring shit for lulz is, guess what, asshole behavior! So it is not a big leap from there to “You, sir, are a racist asshole.”

    It’s also like the drunk thing that’s been covered above. I become a lot of things when I’m shitfaced — clumsy, loud, oversharey, huggy, really annoying about trying to get everyone else to go dancing, etc. I do not magically become a bigot. There’s a reason they say “in vino veritas.” And what you find funny reveals the truth about you just as surely.

  158. Oh the drunk thing – I believe I’m utterly hilarious when drunk, and charming and blessed with mystical mind-reading powers and the ability to heal, bend time and become Nigella Lawson…but I never get so drunk I mistakenly think I’m a superior race/colour/religion.

  159. “As long as we’re only willing to hold blatant, unapologetic racists accountable for their behavior, and the default is to make excuses for everyone else — their Nice White partners, their friends who detest their beliefs but never say anything, that guy who’s made a few racist jokes but is Really Not Like That, that woman who has No Problem with People of Color but thinks all this PC language and sensitivity shit is annoying and ridiculous, etc. — we’re actively taking part in keeping this culture racist. We are being racist.”

    Thank. You.

    Sidenote and possible derail: Whenever I am racially abused in public, or I witness someone else being racially or otherwise abused, I view bystanders as being accountable for their silence. I assume that the bigoted statements are in line with their values. That bigots spouting their bullshit are part of the Australia they want to live in.

    It’s not a popular policy amongst my friends/family/uni – here I go again making “neutral” people uncomfortable! – but it’s one that makes sense to me. It’s one that recognises the silent contributions we all make, every single day.

  160. Yay Kate.

    We’re not talking about someone with a bad habit or annoying quirk. We’re talking about someone who hates groups of people. And if you can reduce that, in your mind, to a bad habit or an annoying quirk and still muster the respect necessary to marry an open bigot? You are condoning their behavior. And that, in itself, is racist. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a terrible person, but it sure does mean you’ve forfeited the right to say “I’m not at all like that.” Because if you weren’t at all like that, you would not have been able to stomach marrying someone who is very much like that.

    This whole comment is made of I Need To Print Out Copies For Several Of My Friends-In-Law.

    Also thank you Alexandra Erin for the point about condoning and letting it slide — these are terms that Nice White People do seem to uncritically lapse into a lot, and it’s very helpful for me to see them ripped open and examined seriously.

  161. I can’t help but wonder how many readers here, if any, are going to look at what slythwolf said here – or even acknowledge that she said it.

  162. I can’t help but wonder how many readers here, if any, are going to look at what slythwolf said here – or even acknowledge that she said it.

    littlem, I”m actually having a quiet epiphany over it, and how-obvious-it-should-be-yet-I’ve-never-thought-of-it-like-that. So yeah, no, I’m with you there.

  163. Epiphany here too.

    White people don’t get to define racism. This is kind of like how men don’t get to define sexism…

    I was thinking of going back to some of the early Jezebel comments and trying to rephrase them in my head as male comments about sexist behavior – just as I often find myself reacting a bit numbly to (e.g.) politicians’ sexist comments and having to snap myself out of it by imagining it as a racist remark. Sometimes I get so USED to hearing incredibly fucked-up things that it’s hard for me to analyze their exact fuckeduppedness.

  164. I think what slythwolf said is pretty self-evident. The only circumstance in which I’d question it is in the affirmative. I absolutely, wholeheartedly x1000000 agree that white people get to decide that an act ISN’T racist. But I do feel white people can decide that an act (of another white person, NOT a PoC!) IS racist. Otherwise Kate would have been wasting her time here tremendously!

  165. DAAAAAAH HATE MISTYPING.

    Obviously I mean “I absolutely, wholeheartedly x1000000 agree that white people DON’Tget to decide that an act ISN’T racist. “

  166. You guys go off on break and then come back with some serious and deep posts.
    It hurts my atrophied brain.
    But thanks, cause if you don’t use it you lose it.

  167. I don’t think you’re a victim-blaming bitch, Kate.

    I don’t know if he was posing like that to suggest an affinity with the Nazis or to mock them. There’s no way I can tell from the picture, and I don’t know much about the guy. (I’m living outside the U.S. and its media mainstream, so please bear with me).

    I don’t agree with the idea that Nazism should never be mocked/satirized/talked about in anything but hushed and properly respectful tones. That gives it too much power. I think Nazism should be ruthlessly mocked at every opportunity. If only because it will help discourage young punks from becoming neo-Nazis. Some people get off on being evil, but nobody likes to be laughed at.

  168. “I can’t help but wonder how many readers here, if any, are going to look at what slythwolf said here – or even acknowledge that she said it.”

    I absolutely saw it and, of course, completely agree with it. I forget whether I first came across that concept on Derailing for Dummies or the Feminism 101 Blog, but it has been a very powerful concept for me in seeing my own privilege and attempting to check it. What Slythwolf said absolutely bears acknowledging and repeating.

  169. Can I say, I had not even heard of this shitstorm until I browsed over to SP today, but I completely agree? I wish I had time to acknowledge all the good commentariat, but I have to run. I hope I’m not being totally antisocial by contributing to this one particular threaddrift; I am only sharing in hope of putting this line of thought to rest.

    To Liza-the-first and anyone else afraid of being called racist: I too am a well-meaning white person who’s been “unfairly” accused of racism. And it has made me embarassed! And frustrated! Because I get defensive, and everything I say to try to clear myself only digs me in deeper! But you know what that’s not as bad as? Being on the receiving end of racism, all the time.

    Here’s an analogue, from my morning commute, not to compare or reduce but to try to show the structure of what’s happening here: I’m on my bike, on a near-empty street, around 6 am. I notice a man on the corner. He’s stationary, I’m moving, nothing to see here. As I roll past, he yells, “Hey miss!” There is no one else around; it’s clear he means me. Now, why do you think he yelled to me? I didn’t stay to engage, so I’ll never know for sure. He could be trying to tell me my shoelace is untied. He could be trying to let me know about a roadblock up ahead I should avoid. He could be trying to inform me that I’ve just won a million dollars. Or he could be proposing that I substitute some part of his body for my bike seat. Guess which one of these scenaria is more common in my bike-riding, ladypart-having life? I made an assumption. It could have been the wrong one, and I’m out my million dollars. Oh well. Maybe he had some legitimate conversational purpose, but when the other interpretation is so depressingly common, you know what? I *don’t care* what else he may have had to say. I made an assumption based on frequent life experience. It is NOT MY JOB to read his mind and figure out if he is legit or not. Maybe this is just more nice white apologia, but I think we can apply the interpersonal dynamic at play here to anytime when a person is asking for a presumtion of innocence.

    Also, here’s what I do when I have a needy customer and can’t give attention to the next customer–I say “excuse me” to the needy person, make eye contact with the waiting person, and say something like “I’ll be with you in just a minute” or whatever. Gives the waiting person the sense that they are important to me, and (incidentally) reminds the needy person that their needs aren’t the only needs in the world. YMMV.

  170. Hey, Nice White People:
    Calling out JJ’s photo, and other behaviors really really should be a no brainer for anyone who actually believes in social justice. The extent to which you are willing to make excuses for such behavior is proportionate to how much indeed, you actually in your heart-of-hearts fall short of REALLY believing in the equal worth and merit of every human being. Nazis MOST EMPHATICALLY DID NOT believe this, and 12,000,000 living human beings perished as a direct result of that. There is no way to handle Nazi or 3rd Reich ‘memorabilia’ or artifacts without that horrific legacy attached. So using that one piece of evidence is PLENTY on which to base an opinion for me. Mine runs the gamut from ‘Dangerous White Supremicist Stay the Fuck Away From’ all the way up to ‘Completely Privileged Fucking Asshole Stay the Fuck Away From’. Pretty fucking simple, really.

    More insidious is the silence from NWP. Because our silence on racist shit comes at the expense of actual harm experienced by actual people who are not white. SB may have very good reasons for not speaking out right now. This in no way ameliorates the harm her silence does. And SB is NOT the victim of her silence, either. The people harmed by racist & Nazi rhetoric are the victims of that silence.

    To the extent I, as a NWP am unwilling to speak up, I am a part of the problem, and I am helping other people to be harmed. Sometimes I might have a good reason – like being afraid a hypothetical racist boss would fire me. But if I’m honest, I have to know that my continued employ still is coming at the expense of other people. I can pretend that that’s not true, but ….

    The most sympathetic scenario I can think of is that SB got into a relationship with JJ, then made the discovery he was abusive. This happens a lot. It happened to me. Trust me, if Bad Boyfriend had done any of the things that came to be the substance of our relationship during the first 3-6mo, well, there would be no BB stories. Getting out of such a relationship might be easier for a woman with her privileges, but perhaps not. You’re just as dead as a celebrity, if the abuser in question is dangerous enough. If after this she found out all the other racist/asshat shit, well then, her silence is understandable. Not less harmful. Her culpability in the greater racist environment JJ’s behavior creates is of a different degree from if she knew what he was like and then chose to be involved, but that in no way changes the harm of his contributions to that racist environment.

    If the answer to “Why didn’t SB say anything?” turns out to be that she was in a private hell, that’s a good reason. That doesn’t mean Kate questions shouldn’t be asked- they need to be. NOT asking them makes SBs feelings more important than the harm being done to less privileged people. Further, that silence creates a bigger space for those people who DO want to harm others people deemed “less than” for whatever reason to commit their jack-booted jackassery – or WORSE. I want to live in a world where there is LESS space for that shit.

  171. As much as I’ve never believed it, there is truth in the ability to teach an old dog new tricks. Or, at least in the ability of the old dog to learn a new trick.

    My father, born in 1940, was never outwardly racist as far as I can remember. The one experience I remember was being maybe twelve years old and walking through the mall with my dad. I pointed out a guy working in Taco Bell and said I thought he was really cute. My father replies, “That spic?” And I walked away. I mustered all the courage and conviction I had in my body, overrode the “respect your elders/parents” mantra running in my head, and left him standing alone. We ended up in a shouting match in the middle of the food court. His opinion was that as my father and an adult, he had the right to say whatever he liked and I needed to respect that. My response was something along the lines of, “You are entitled to say whatever you like, but not with me. If you are going to talk that way, you can leave me home.”

    Fast forward 15 years. His stepson has just announced that he’s getting married. To a woman from Jamaica. A very dark woman from Jamaica. Well, doesn’t that just set his whole old-school Jewish family off. The elderly aunts call my father and stepmother’s house, demanding they put a stop to this. And who is the only person to step up and tell them to shut their traps? My father. The old dog that learned a new trick. I was so proud.

    It is possible…

  172. “What? What would make that picture okay?”

    I’m not going to claim it is okay… nor that it isn’t racist (for the reason Slythwolf posted). However, it doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to believe that the douche in the picture does not actually believe in Nazi ideology (based solely on the picture – apparently there are more reasons for thinking otherwise in his case). In fact, I would be more likely to think, seeing someone pose that way, that he thought he was “making fun of Hitler”, found Hitler worthy of ridicule, and was not tasteful or aware enough to recognize how incredibly disrespectful and trivializing such “mockery” was.

    And as for Sandra Bullock… it’s even more of a stretch. So much so, I really have to wonder how it’s productive at all, except as proof of how far from being racist the one criticizing Bullock must be. Besides, the institution of marriage doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, or even for one couple over the course of their relationship. To assume, by default, a woman shares her spouse’s attitudes… it just doesn’t sit right with me.

  173. SweetAsCake, why are you equivocating so hard?

    And, after having just quoted slythwolf, how are you justifying it to yourself?

  174. @SweetAsCake:

    You know, I don’t for one second believe that anywhere near the majority of people doing “funny” Nazi salutes and other gestures are thinking anything like “I will do mock Hitler and his beliefs, which I have little esteem for, by doing a lighthearted imitation of his sacred symbols”. I’d hazard a guess it’s more like, “LOL I’LL DO THE NAZI SALUTE IT’LL BE HELLA FUNNY LOL”

    Their reasons for doing it aren’t so well-articulated as to include an explicit criticism or endorsement of Hitler in their thoughts, which leaves us to judge the fact that they think LOL LET’S MAKE LIKE NAZIS is funny.

    If your threshold of Give A Damn is set so high that it takes an explicitly overtly actively admittedly racist thought expressed where we can see it (“I AM IMITATING HITLER BECAUSE I LIKE HITLER AND MY AFFECTION FOR HITLER IS MOTIVATED BY MY HATRED OF JEWS AND OTHER NON-ARYANS AND THIS IS MY SOLE MOTIVATION FOR THIS ACTION AND I AM WILLING TO TAKE A LIE DETECTOR TEST TO PROVE IT”), that’s your lookout, but that viewpoint is asstacular enough without you telling other people that their threshold’s too low.

  175. I should add that my response to my racist uncle wasnt triggered by Nice White Person syndrome – at aged10 the desire to be nice purely for approval’s sake hadnt kicked in, I just knew instinctively that he was dribbling Ass Water.

  176. To assume, by default, a woman shares her spouse’s attitudes… it just doesn’t sit right with me.

    ME NEITHER WHICH IS WHY I SAID ABOUT 50 TIMES THAT WE SHOULDN’T ASSUME.

    I said it’s fair to ask, to wonder. It is not some crazy, out-there, anti-feminist leap to assume that married people might be on the same page politically, and inquire about that when it becomes clear that one of them has extreme views. And yet, nobody’s asking. And a lot of people are arguing that it’s not even fair to ask, which is the whole problem and the point of this post.

    Like I said above, if Al pulled something like this, I would expect people to wonder about me. Once I made it clear that I was horrified, that I did not know about it, and I do not want someone like that in my life, THEN I would certainly hope people would combine that with everything else on the record about my views and give me the benefit of the doubt that I really didn’t know and really was horrified. But I wouldn’t expect people to automatically assume the best of me if it turned out I was married to a bigoted shit. I wouldn’t expect people to defend my right to be silent about it. Because not saying anything is, in fact, saying something.

    And yet, because I am a nice white lady, I could almost certainly get away with not saying anything in that situation; I would lose some readers, and I would take some flack. Because I specifically operate in a progressive sphere, I would probably lose a few more readers and take a little more flack than someone who doesn’t. But I could almost certainly still have/rebuild a career and a readership after that. Sandra Bullock will almost certainly still have a career if she says nothing, because there are enough people who will continue assuming the best of her and arguing that it’s OK to be silent on something like this, that it’s more offensive to even WONDER if she holds similar views than it is to let it slide. But I would rather live in a world where that is not true. Which is kind of the whole point here.

  177. However, it doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to believe that the douche in the picture does not actually believe in Nazi ideology (based solely on the picture – apparently there are more reasons for thinking otherwise in his case). In fact, I would be more likely to think, seeing someone pose that way, that he thought he was “making fun of Hitler”, found Hitler worthy of ridicule, and was not tasteful or aware enough to recognize how incredibly disrespectful and trivializing such “mockery” was.

    Why on earth does this matter? Substituting phrases like “not tasteful” for “anti-Semitic and racist” is part of the problem. If you call something “gay” meaning bad and then you say “But I didn’t really mean it that way,” I don’t give a shit how you meant it. You said it that way. If you do Funny Hitler pose and go “But I totally hate Hitler,” I don’t give a shit.

    Considering “not making [racist/anti-Semitic/sexist/ableist/classist] jokes” a matter of having Proper Taste rather than Not Oppressing People is a function of unexamined privilege.

  178. SB may have very good reasons for not speaking out right now. This in no way ameliorates the harm her silence does. And SB is NOT the victim of her silence, either. The people harmed by racist & Nazi rhetoric are the victims of that silence.

    Sorry, nothing to add to this except yes, yes, yes, and yes!

  179. Let me get this straight…

    Fatties don’t like when non fats define fatphobia. Yet those same fatties – the white ones anyway – think they ought to be able to define racism for POCs.

    Lane Bryant, we have a problem here.

    And how utterly embarrassing for y’all.

  180. Littlem, that video is made of baby donuts and awesome. I just yesterday got into a fight with someone saying that retarded was an ok substitute for stupid, to further his point he said that he uses [horrible racial slur] to simply mean punk. I wouldn’t be offended by that would I? So of course I called him a huge massive wild-eyed bushy tailed raving racist, several times. I wish I had seen this video first, because he pretty much wriggled away.

    And Slythwolf’s post was pretty mind blowing. Though sadly, if you tell someone who is saying racist things that, then they’ll go on to say even more racist things about how POC shouldn’t get to decide what’s racist because they over react.

  181. “Fatties don’t like when non fats define fatphobia. Yet those same fatties – the white ones anyway – think they ought to be able to define racism for POCs. ”

    Did I misread Slythwolf’s post completely, because I thought she said just the opposite?

  182. If your post at Jezebel required so many caveats and clarifications in order for your message to be clear…why did you write it?

  183. I did not substitute the phrase. I did not say it wasn’t racist.

    @ Sweet Machine “Considering “not making [racist/anti-Semitic/sexist/ableist/classist] jokes” a matter of having Proper Taste rather than Not Oppressing People is a function of unexamined privilege.”

    It is bad taste *and* it is oppressing people. I didn’t say it wasn’t! The fact that someone could do a Hitler pose without intending to be racist is a function of unexamined privilege. But I stand by my statement that people could think that way: yes, Alexandra Erin, probably not in the most articulate fashion, but still that way. Why does it matter? Because the readers at Jezebel are apparently getting hung up on the question of the guy’s intentions, for one thing. The idea that “even unintentional racism is still racist and blameworthy” doesn’t come up if we assume the intention is obvious – and that is an idea that the people leaving those comments really ought to consider.
    All this is made irrelevant by the Hitler surfboard, of course: that damns him thoroughly and proves Kate’s conclusions reasonable… but people who have only seen the photo might, I think, be reading it the way I said above. Maybe they aren’t, and maybe it doesn’t matter; take it or leave it.

  184. “Alibelle, no that’s some of the sentiment expressed in this thread. Not slythewolf.”

    Oh, ok, I often misread things to fit what I want the world to be like, so I was worried that this was one of those times. I sort of gaslight myself sometimes. :)

  185. Kittastic, the problem wasn’t with the post. I read it, understood it, said “right on” and moved along, as did many others. But did you see the gigantic thread that followed? There were plenty of problems there; some were reading comprehension issues, some racism, some privilege. All problems, but not with what Kate had said to begin with.

  186. This post has made me pretty grateful for my mom. I was about 5 and my bro 3 when we sat playing nearby as my dad’s much loved friend began to tell a racist joke. My mom tried to stop him several times, and my dad kept shooting her looks like maybe she shouldn’t say anything. Just before he got to the punchline, which even I knew was going to contain racist language, my Nice White Lady mom reached across the table, grabbed him by the collar, and said ” We don’t use language like that in this house, you stupid motherfucker.” He tried to plead that is was just a joke, and she said, “You can *just* take your ignorant ass home.”

    My brother and I have always said with that pretty clear model we’ve always been able to categorize people’s behavior around issues in to one of those three categories.. Dad’s friend: racist. Dad: at least partly tolerant of friend’s racism, or as Kate put it, “racist enough.” Mom: anti-racism. And we’re both pretty clear that we don’t want anyone wondering which category we fall into, and it’s well worth the effort to clarify.

    Oh, and “We don’t use language like that in this house, you stupid motherfucker” has long since become a family slogan.

  187. I know this is the farthest thing from a Friday Fluff thread, but…

    Oh, and “We don’t use language like that in this house, you stupid motherfucker” has long since become a family slogan.

    i LOVE that!

  188. If your post at Jezebel required so many caveats and clarifications in order for your message to be clear…why did you write it?

    Well first, it didn’t. It was clear to loads of people. I decided to give those having trouble with reading comprehension a little extra help here.

    But second, here’s an interesting thing: I’m pretty sure this is the first post I have EVER written that has made people (apart from Broadsheet commenters) say things like “You shouldn’t have written this” or “Why would you write this?” etc. to my face. (Mostly in response to my saying in the first post that I didn’t really want to write it; I got a lot of “Should have followed that instinct.”) I have written about all sorts of controversial shit in the last few years and gotten plenty of criticism, but “You shouldn’t have published this at all” is a new one on me. I write two posts saying “Why is it apparently off-limits to even ask this question? What the hell?” and get a whole shitload of “HOW DARE YOU ASK THIS QUESTION?!” Huh.

    And it’s really interesting to get a comment like that on a 200-comment thread in which many people are discussing the problems with not asking such questions, and not talking about things like this. (Meanwhile, other people are illustrating those very problems.)

    So, why did I write it? See above.

    ETA: I’d just like to point out that it’s not that I don’t take my first ever “You shouldn’t have published this” comments seriously. That’s the kind of thing that should make you think, as a writer. But I’ve thought. And I stand by all of it.

  189. >> I write two posts saying “Why is it apparently off-limits to even ask this question? What the hell?” and get a whole shitload of “HOW DARE YOU ASK THIS QUESTION?!” Huh.

    Kate, I really think you are thoroughly awesome, and I hope you will take this in the kindest possible way, but for me at least, this attitude is coming less from “OMG WE CAN’T DISCUSS RACISM BECAUSE IT MAKES ME UNCOMFORTABLE AS A WHITE PERSON” perspective and more of a “OMG, let’s not make assumptions about what SB knew/didn’t know because it makes me uncomfortable as a feminist.”

    I know that you laced your posts with lots of caveats, but you have at least one mod and several posters on record saying that she *must* have known and is therefore no better than he – which goes against your direct caveats in your initial post, but you haven’t seemed to press back hard on that particular attitude (but maybe I missed it while crafting this post). That concerns me. (Concern Troll is concerned, I know, but it does. :))

    There’s a long history in sexism to tar women with the same brush as their husbands, and it’s not fair in the slightest. Doing so in the name of fighting racism seems uncomfortably close to commiting a wrong in the name of sweet delicious righteous anger, and that worries me.

    So I think that’s where a lot of people are coming from. I just hope you will consider that my concern at least (as I can’t speak for others) is not coming from a WHATABOUTTHEWHITEWOMEN stance but rather from a “Whoa, hey, not the feminism I personally subscribe to”.

    I love ya’ll, and Shapely Prose. Peace out. :)

  190. >> To assume, by default, a woman shares her spouse’s attitudes… it just doesn’t sit right with me.

    >> ME NEITHER WHICH IS WHY I SAID ABOUT 50 TIMES THAT WE SHOULDN’T ASSUME.

    Also, yes, you aren’t saying that. But other people here seem to be. I think that’s why some of the commenters are so frustrated – they may not be arguing with you so much as arguing with some other people who picked up what you said and ran about 50 yards further with it.

    But I could be wrong. I shouldn’t speak for other people, only for myself.

  191. Aliciamaud74, my problem with Kate’s original essay is that it lacks her usual sense of laser-guided purpose. The essay reads like the author started thinking out loud, made various detours and roundabouts in the logic of her argument, then needed to write another post to defend the first. I just found the whole essay a little unfortunate, and not up to Kate’s usual high standard.

    Plus, I’m always a little underwhelmed by a piece of writing that has *any* degree of “I’m in no way suggesting this…(but I’m still sorta suggesting it).”

  192. Plus, I’m always a little underwhelmed by a piece of writing that has *any* degree of “I’m in no way suggesting this…(but I’m still sorta suggesting it).”

    Yeah, it’s actually, “I am in no way suggesting this, but instead I am suggesting something else.” But whatever. Your underwhelmedness is duly noted. I’ll be happy to refund what you paid for both posts.

  193. Right, well, I’ll say this about whether she did or didn’t know about the douchewaffle’s racist behavior: she’s shown herself to be a really smart businessperson, and really smart businesspeople who have reached the level of success she has will *always* make it a point to do their homework on new ventures, whether it’s a monetary investment or a romantic relationship, because they have a lot to lose. She had at her disposal hefty wads of cashola to chuck at the sharkiest of private investigators to find out alllllllll about him, and if she didn’t do so (or if her agents/managers didn’t find out for her), then she’s nowhere near as smart as I thought she was. That’s just common sense and logic, as far as I’m concerned. A lot of show-business careers have been torpedoed for much less.

    So either she’s a straight-up fool who didn’t make it a point to find out, which I do not believe, or she did find out, and she … at minimum disregarded it, and at worst, agreed with it wholeheartedly, while presenting a very different public face. That conclusion pains me some, because I had respect and admiration for a lot of the things she’s done in her career and in her philanthropic works. Not anymore.

  194. Kate, while I agree that you weren’t directly asking SB to account for her husband (and explicitly stated that she doesn’t owe us anything), I have to agree that your pieces weren’t as pointed and directed as most of your writing is, and I think that created a more ripe environment for some of the chaos. I still agree that silence condones his actions, thus inquiries should be a part of the media’s normal behavior and racism is why that’s not happening. However, the ways in which you ended your pieces weren’t as clear as they typically are, and they in some ways sapped strength from your disclaimer and muddied your intended point.

    Through your comments I think you’ve really clarified things (media, why aren’t you pouncing as usual; SB, why aren’t you proactively responding because even with the personal trauma, SOME response is expected of you by society). However, at the end of the Jezebel piece, you said it was fair to ask “Seriously, dude, what the HELL?”, leaving the identity of the asker open. The way you phrased it made it reasonable to assume that you were the one doing the asking, especially given the personal tone of the paragraphs preceding it.

    Over here, you’re very explicit in stating that she doesn’t owe us anything, but at the end, you still phrase things in a way that puts you in the role of the person asking her for answers. Since we readers like to identify with you (’cause you’re awesome), that puts the conversation back into ‘she should answer to her public’ territory. Not your intention, and it in no way invalidates the very real racist consequences of her silence, but I do think that it contributed to some of the confusion.

  195. There’s a long history in sexism to tar women with the same brush as their husbands, and it’s not fair in the slightest. Doing so in the name of fighting racism seems uncomfortably close to commiting a wrong in the name of sweet delicious righteous anger, and that worries me.

    Tar? Seriously? Am I on Candid Racist again? *looks for camera and Alan Funt*

  196. Over here, you’re very explicit in stating that she doesn’t owe us anything, but at the end, you still phrase things in a way that puts you in the role of the person asking her for answers. Since we readers like to identify with you (’cause you’re awesome), that puts the conversation back into ’she should answer to her public’ territory. Not your intention, and it in no way invalidates the very real racist consequences of her silence, but I do think that it contributed to some of the confusion.

    I’m gonna need to get the judge’s decision on this. Nope. Sorry. The only “confusion” is manufactured by folks who don’t like the idea of a NWL being accused of racism, because it might just mean they have some shit to unpack themselves. How sad that folks are more worried about a NWL being labeled “racist” than the actual racist acts committed on her watch.

    And as far as whether or not SB needs to make a statement. Well, if she hadn’t in engaged in all manner of chow chowery during the marketing of Crash – the liberal folks feel good we’re not racists movie – then I wouldn’t give a shit what she knew, how often and how that affected her weekend.

  197. I’m almost embarrassed that I live 20 mins away from Jesse James’ motorcycle business. I don’t pay close attention to the Hollywood b.s. I mean, I knew the guy was a douche, but not of what caliber.

  198. Thanks, Caitlin. I finally grasp that we are not asking why SB isn’t out there angrily denouncing hubby at a time when she certainly has many other things on her mind: we’re asking why nobody’s asking SB that when if she were anyone but a America’s Sweetheart nice white girl the press would be ripping her apart about now.

    So the question Kate is asking isn’t “how much did she know/how could she not notice/why has she not issued a statement?!?”, it’s why is no one else asking these things? And the answer is, unquestionably, racism. Sandra Bullock is a nice white lady who seems like a fun person and so everyone’s supposed to assume she must be as shocked and horrified by all this as anyone else. Except, she was married to this guy. So, when you think about it, that’s a really weird assumption to make. Why are we all expected to make it?

    But I think it’s not racism, it’s classism, and I agree they overlap, but they’re different. Imagine if it was not Sandra Bullock but Halle Berry. The press wouldn’t, I’m convinced, rip her apart either. Because both of them occupy the same sort of place in the cultural imagination – nice girl, can do no wrong, unbelievably beautiful, also rich … race is secondary here. (Where Jennifer Lopez would definitely get ripped apart because her persona doesn’t have so much “nice girl” written in.)

    I’m trying to think of other black or Latino or Asian women who wouldn’t get ripped apart, and I am coming up blank, partly because I’m not really up on my popular culture, but partly because there aren’t that many holding that iconic position in our culture (and that is definitely a consequence of racism of course). But there aren’t many white ladies who would not get ripped apart either: you really do have to be an America’s Sweetheart, not just rich and white and beautiful.

    So racism is operating, certainly, but I think at one remove. They aren’t questioning SB because she’s an America’s Sweetheart. But it is overwhelmingly white ladies who get to be America’s Sweethearts. This is the sort of thing I tend to be blind to until my attention is forcibly drawn to it, so thank you for doing that.

  199. sorry, that second paragraph in my last was copied from Caitlin’s response and I put “quote” tags around it but they didn’t work – anyway it’s not mine, and my apologies; it’s yours.

  200. Considering “not making [racist/anti-Semitic/sexist/ableist/classist] jokes” a matter of having Proper Taste rather than Not Oppressing People is a function of unexamined privilege.

    Yes. This. What it comes down to. Cannot be said enough.

    Things I find interesting:

    - people are calling Kate out on stuff others of us have said and holding her responsible for it even though it wasn’t her that said it

    - so many fucking white people invested in making sure we can all agree that the act of taking a Funny Hitler photo is not as racist as blah blee bloo, and if I have to say to myself, what does this remind me of, to be perfectly honest the first thing to come to my mind is the reaction of the male progressive blogosphere to the picture of some Obama staffer groping the cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton and miming forcing beer down her throat, because we all know if a White Dude didn’t mean it That Way then everything is fine and dandy

    - somehow saying “I find it really fucking odd that someone wouldn’t say anything about it if they didn’t already know their partner was like this” is the same as saying “Sandra Bullock owes us all an explanation and if she doesn’t give us one she is no better than her husband”, except that those two things are in fact not the same at all

    - white people’s handwaving about what is and is not racism, and what is and is not as bad as what else, is just so much “pay no attention to the oppression behind the curtain”; let’s all re-focus our attention off of racism and back onto what white people think about racism and the hierarchy of where you fall on “I’m not a bad person really” instead of owning our shit and trying to change something for fuck’s sake

    - people being perfectly willing to speculate, based on evidence that he probably thinks Nazis are awesome, that Jesse James is an abusive partner, but it is just beyond the pale to speculate that Sandra Bullock may have been aware of, and in fact may have condoned, the Nazi shit

    - the implication all over the goddamn place like the elephant in the middle of the living room that we all tiptoe around that Sandra Bullock’s lack of male privilege erases her white privilege, that somehow we as a society should not expect her to speak out against bigotry whenever she has the opportunity because she is a woman–yes there is a sexist history of assuming that women share their husbands’ politics, but this is coming from a different place than that, I can’t say it right I’m sure because it’s three o’clock in the goddamn morning but the thing is, I expect white people to speak up against this shit when given the chance because it is not people of color’s job to end racism, they didn’t start the shit, it’s on us to do it, and yes, to be perfectly fucking clear, if a white person is handed on a silver platter (or a silver-plated shit platter, let’s be honest, if you are a decent person finding out you’re married to someone who thinks Nazis are awesome is not going to be a pleasant experience) the opportunity to speak out against racism and doesn’t take it, you bet your ass I start to wonder why

    - my pasty white ass saying the same thing people of color have said a million fucking different ways gives white people epiphanies

  201. @Kly:

    Maaaaaaan am I out of the loop. First I had no idea who this Jesse James guy was, but now it turns out that we figured out how to neatly separate out race and class in American society and I missed it.

  202. But I think it’s not racism, it’s classism,

    Aaaaand Kly here’s where we run into slythwolf’s comment, which as she points out has been said a million different ways by people of colour already. White people don’t get to define racism. So, given that POC here and elsewhere* have identified the way this thing is playing out as part of the blatently racist pattern they have to deal with every day, you don’t get to say it isn’t. Is class in play? Sure, almost definitely. Does it trump racism, so that you can say “it’s not racism, it’s…”? Nope. It is racism. It’s just probably other things as well.

    Like, I would (and do) laugh and laugh and laugh, and say “fuck” a lot, when men try to tell women what isn’t sexism, or straight people tell gays what isn’t homophobia, etc. It’s only sinking in for me today how obviously fucking analogous that is to white people saying/thinking something isn’t racist, or isn’t as racist as POC think it is, and that’s to my shame and all I can do is work on it from now on.

    *and also Kate, obv

  203. But I think it’s not racism, it’s classism, and I agree they overlap, but they’re different.

    Who made you the boss of “what’s racism and what’s not racism”? Boy that takes all kinds of cheek! Thinking you know better than someone with lived experience. What kind of fail water did you seep your teabag in?

    How about this as a rule:

    If it’s NOT your lived experience, you don’t get to dictate what is and isn’t problematic stuff to those – here’s the important part – with lived experience.

    I swear the sheer arrogance of folks, buried under all that damn chow chow. If you’re gonna say, “I know more than you about things you actually experience from things I read or overheard someone else say.” Just say it and save the bandwidth.

  204. How sad that folks are more worried about a NWL being labeled “racist” than the actual racist acts committed on her watch.

    This, yes. There is another site I comment on, which is a UK-based political commentary site with a fairly diverse range of commenters, and one of the things that I have noticed, increasingly, is that people who complain of racism or antisemitism generally get accused of “smearing” the person who made the comment they’re complaining about. It really is amazing the way the majority culture (in any given situation) can turn a complaint of racism around to make themselves the victim of oppression, without at any stage saying: I didn’t realise that what I said was offensive, it is not obvious to me that what I said WAS offensive, can you help me with how I have offended you? And not only that, but when I pointed out that we had reached a stage where avowedly racist comments were allowed to stand whilst people who complained about them were accused of playing the race card to shut down debate and/or accused of assaulting free speech, I was criticised for that as well.

    Anyway. As a white Jewish woman, I have both been on the end of offensive comments that perhaps were not obviously offensive to the person who made them, and made such comments myself. I am the first to admit that I am quite sensitive and easily offended, and my first reaction to being told that I have said something offensive IS often to think “but that is NONSENSE how could anyone THINK that of me”. But. But but but. I have learned to sit on myself quite hard when I think that. It does not matter what I meant. That’s the important thing. The only way that other people can work out what I mean, is by what I say. Even if I think someone else has misinterpreted what I’ve said, I now take the view that it’s much better simply to say: “I didn’t mean that. I meant this” than to make out that the real victim is me.

  205. @Katey Newton -”It really is amazing the way the majority culture (in any given situation) can turn a complaint of racism around to make themselves the victim of oppression, without at any stage saying: I didn’t realise that what I said was offensive, it is not obvious to me that what I said WAS offensive, can you help me with how I have offended you?”

    Yep, I’ve thought that. People who tend to say that also rely heavily on saying “God! You can’t say ANYTHING to “those people” without them taking offence”…..never thinking that they might not be able to speak about “those people” (who ever they happen to be on any given day) without CAUSING offence.

  206. Kate, while I agree that you weren’t directly asking SB to account for her husband (and explicitly stated that she doesn’t owe us anything), I have to agree that your pieces weren’t as pointed and directed as most of your writing is, and I think that created a more ripe environment for some of the chaos…. the ways in which you ended your pieces weren’t as clear as they typically are, and they in some ways sapped strength from your disclaimer and muddied your intended point.

    Alice, you’re getting the snarky response first, and then I’ll get more serious. Snarky response: When did this turn into workshop? I’m just waiting to hear that someone loves my voice but thinks I could really stand to beef up the sensory detail.

    Thank you for thinking that most of my blog posts are written to a higher standard, but if they come off that way, it’s mostly luck. Every blog post is a draft. They are written within a few hours and published immediately. I often refine my thoughts as I go along, and in comments, and in subsequent posts. Sometimes I even change my mind. Sometimes, even posts that get an overwhelming positive response would really be better off with some editing; “The Fantasy of Being Thin,” for instance, could stand to lose about 4 paragraphs of meandering around the point. (In fact, it did when I revised it for the book.) I am well known among family, friends and editors I’ve worked with — and probably among readers who have a critical eye but don’t feel the need to share — for writing long and winding posts, for routinely blowing a couple of paragraphs on throat-clearing, and for figuring out what my point is 2/3 of the way in. Since I am in the business of publishing first drafts, though, all we can really do is laugh about it.

    So I’m not buying that this is some special case where I was just off my game in terms of constructing an argument. In this medium, it’s far more rare that I’m really ON my game constructing an argument, frankly. But people bear with me as long as they think it’s going somewhere good. So how ’bout we just acknowledge that this time, you disagreed with me and don’t like what I said, instead of turning this into a Craft of Blogging seminar?

    Over here, you’re very explicit in stating that she doesn’t owe us anything, but at the end, you still phrase things in a way that puts you in the role of the person asking her for answers.

    I am asking! Yes, I am posing questions about the media’s response, but I am also asking myself. I drew a distinction between accusing/assuming and asking, which I think is important, but when I say “It’s fair to ask,” I don’t mean it’s fair for other people to get their hands dirty and risk being seen as meanies for asking, but of course I would do no such thing. I mean I’m asking. In an open-ended way, yes, because obviously, Sandra Bullock isn’t listening to me. But “Seriously dude, WHAT THE HELL?” very much describes my feelings on the matter. And the more time passes without a statement, the more I think it’s likely that she and her people think that photo (not to mention all of the other evidence that James is racist) are not a big enough deal to comment on. And I find that very troublesome.

    Since we readers like to identify with you (’cause you’re awesome), that puts the conversation back into ’she should answer to her public’ territory.

    Whoa, and there’s the problem. Seriously, thank you for thinking I’m awesome. But also seriously, if readers like to identify with me and are therefore disappointed when they realize that maybe we don’t agree on absolutely everything, that’s not a problem with my writing. That’s a problem with the readers’ expectations. It’s okay to disagree with me. It’s okay to dislike some of my posts. It’s even okay to decide that overall, you don’t like my writing much anymore and quit reading. I have done and will continue to do all of the above with writers I once adored; all that’s part of being a reader. But it’s not okay (and you are not the first to do this) to expect me to fit each reader’s definition of “awesome” with every single post, and to apologize and say I got it wrong every time somebody says, “Hey, I was really surprised to see this coming from you, because I usually like what you say and I didn’t like this!”

    That’s not okay for a lot of reasons, but here’s one: Look upthread here, and even at the Jezebel comments (at least on the first post — I haven’t read comments on the second). Note how many times people say things like “Thank you! I’m so glad you said this!” On the one hand, I’ve got people like you saying “I don’t like this, and maybe you shouldn’t have written it, and I think if you really reflect, you’ll realize that this is sketchy and not up to your usual standards.” And on the other hand, I’ve got a lot of people saying, “I like this, and I’m glad you wrote it, and I think you totally nailed it.” So who’s right?

    Well, you all are, in terms of your experience as readers. But in terms of what I should be doing as a writer, when feedback is mixed like that, all I can do is look it over and ask myself if I really stand by what I’ve written. And I do. Sure, if these were works in progress instead of published first drafts, and we were actually holding a workshop here instead of commenting on a blog, I’d revise them both to be tighter. But that’s not part of blogging, unfortunately. And in the context of blogging, I stand by it all and don’t regret a word. If I’d published that first post on Broadsheet instead of Jez, I never would have looked at comments, so I wouldn’t have done all the refining and clarifying in a second post and comments. And I would still stand by that first post and not regret a word.

    As to the content rather than the craft, I am well aware of how holding women responsible for their husbands’ actions is problematic on about a hundred levels; I’ve even commented on that specifically in this here thread, when someone put forth the argument that women are responsible for how their partners treat them. But everyone who wants to talk about how problematic THAT is instead of how problematic it is to let funny Hitler go without comment is missing something (in addition to the fact that feminism cannot be used as an excuse to ignore racism, which others have covered well): All of this is about holding her responsible for HER actions, not his.

    Nobody is saying she must obviously be a secret white supremacist, or that she did something that made her husband one, or that she owes the world an apology for his behavior or her judgment in marrying him. What those of us who think there’s a point to these posts are saying is, when your spouse does something unequivocally racist, YOU FUCKING DENOUNCE IT. You do not stand for that shit, and you do not risk giving the impression that you stand for it with your silence. When you are a public figure, you denounce it publicly — both because it’s the right thing to do and because if you don’t, right or wrong, people will wonder about you. (And some people, right or wrong, will go ahead and conclude that you either share those views or at least condone them.) As I said right up in this post, it’s about “expecting her, as a public figure, to take this seriously. Because that picture, despite what James’ defenders say, is fucking serious.” His behavior is the catalyst for the whole discussion, but all I’m holding her accountable for are her own actions, which are fully within her control.

  207. So, this really is the way we Nice White Ladies show our asses, isn’t it?
    –”As a woman I’ve been raised to please people, smooth things over, stand by my man, erase myself, make nicey-poo, and be viewed as Assistant Person to my husband’s Real Person.”
    –”Right, true, yes… BUT as a white person you have ALSO been formed to walk around with an unexamined sense of being both normal and superior as compared to people of color; AND, plus, incidentally, there’s… oh, kind of a pretty long and entrenched history of racial injustice and white supremacist brutality against POC, so you might want to, you know, allow that to lend some nuance to your self-understanding.”
    –”Right… um, you’re trying to make me feel yucky. You KNOW how I hate to feel yucky. I’m going to have to insist that we go back to talking about what I was talking about. Superiority? wev.”

    And I’m not trying to pull a faux-”ally” move and talk about Nice White Ladies as though they’re… over there, somehow, and lookit me I’m above it all because I referred to Nice White Ladies in the third person. I do this all the damn time. Only progress I’ve made, honestly, is that now I do it in the silence of my own head, and also I follow it with a “You are SHOWING YOUR ASS, A Sarah. Shut up shut up shut up.”

    Well, anyway, Kate, brava for writing about Nice White Ladies in a way that parsed all three terms with nuance. I got it.

  208. @Kate – Just to say, if people agree with you or they don’t, it’s a very bold, balls-out thing to state your views in the way that you do. And as for if the posts are long and winding or not, firstly, I don’t think they are, and secondly even if they were, that’s called thinking space, imagination and creativity – you arent a blog machine that spits out neatly tailored bite size pieces for the world.

    And secondly maybe I don’t always agree with you or the mods, but so what. I enjoy reading everything and what I don’t always agree with gets me thinking and pondering things from different angles…which is good. And as you say sometimes, if I don’t like it, then I should get my own damn blog! I like this site precisely because it challenges – sometimes its hysterical and sometimes moving, and often very thought provoking, all of which are good.

    Ok…I now have a small and embarrassing confession. When I first read @Al’s comment “Your husband must be so ashamed. You should probably buy him lunch,” I nearly fired off a sweaty “Oh! And who are you to know how Kate’s husband might feel about something” message…I then realised that Al must indeed be Kate’s husband, and therefore I was about to make a giant neon flashing arse of myself. The sweet shame.

  209. I have not read all the comments but I think I have a different reaction.

    I think Sandra is not responding because she is not ready to let him off the hook yet.

    His story is that the hat came from his Jewish godfather and he was just having a conversation with the same Jewsih godfather when the picture was taken. It was not a posed picture- it was not during a rowdy night with the guys- it was a just a photo of a family moment- not meant to be memorable- that has been misrepresented.

    I say this because I have only watched the Celebrity Apprentice once when Jesse James was on and I came away thinking that Jesse was really really nice- and definitely not a racist and Sandra was pretty lucky to have found him. So I think at this point we know of infidelity which I do not find evil and maybe Sandy was not as lucky as I thought but…

    I think that no one’s life can stand up to 24 hour scrutiny even when you have your own pr machine and we should all get back to worrying about off shore drilling and real healthcare reform and the continuing wars ……

  210. Kate, thanks for your response – I appreciate your thinking about it so much! We’re not your editors, and I thought for a while about whether to say anything, since you weren’t explicitly asking for this kind of feedback. However, since agreeing with you much (though definitely all) of the time *does* mean that I don’t see this kind of thing in other posts, it struck me as unusual, therefore the comment.

    I do want to clarify one thing – when I said that readers identify with you, I wasn’t meaning in the ‘therefore you should say everything I think but better!’ way, although I’m sure there’s a fair amount of that going on. I was meaning that you asking questions isn’t the MSM asking questions – therefore you’re asking for clarification from her as one of the normal folks, and that, to me, conflicts with the statement ‘she doesn’t owe us anything’.

    None of this changes the fact that this whole situation brings up a lot of necessary questions that generally go unasked (why are NWLs allowed to condone racism without getting called on it, why is it seen in some ‘liberal’ circles as SO much worse to call someone’s actions racist than it is to COMMIT the racist act, etc.) And though I can’t imagine how much time this massive comment thread has sucked away from you and Snarkysmachine, I know that a lot of us are thinking about this way more than we were a couple of days ago.

  211. I’m really really really failing to see where classism comes into this. And yes, growing up working class, I do have a big chip on my shoulder can generally call it when I see it. I would ask for an explanation, but who needs one about this racist dipshit behaviour, whether JJ is a full-on neo-Nazi or is merely “racist enough”.

    Also, you can’t get more upper class than Prince Harry, and he was quite happy to engage in the same fucked-up behaviour (at least to the dressing up in Nazi regalia).

    As has been mentioned upstream, it’s interesting what people don’t consider to be deal-breakers in the context of a relationship. Homophobia doesn’t work for me (hello, I’m queer), and I’ve gotten over much of my transphobia, so that doesn’t fly either. I can absolutely 100% guarantee that no (ex-)partner of mine would have incriminating photos of themselves in Nazi regalia. 100% guarantee. Classism I tend to be slightly more tolerant of, because I’m pretty middle-class assimilated these days. But I still call it out when I notice the milder effects. Naturally, if someone thought all people on the dole were “bludgers” and the working classes were one step up from crims, I wouldn’t have someone like that in my life – I have put up with it for brief periods of time, to be “polite”. I endure my mother’s racism, although I do tell her to STFU around me.

    So, yeah, I do find it difficult to believe that if you’re in an intimate relationship with someone, you would have NO IDEA of where they fall on those various -ism continuums. For me, the racism and queer stuff are absolute deal-breakers and classism follows closely behind. Perhaps SB was assuming that Mr “Bad Boy” needed to be given some leeway with his douchey self – if bad boy/nice girl was their relationship dynamic – because bad boys are just like that? If so, it’s a passive acceptance of that kind of belief system, which is disappointing. Or perhaps he is amazingly two-faced, and only let it out with certain friends. It is marginally possible.

  212. I nearly fired off a sweaty “Oh! And who are you to know how Kate’s husband might feel about something” message…I then realised that Al must indeed be Kate’s husband, and therefore I was about to make a giant neon flashing arse of myself. The sweet shame.

    Ha! Yes, that was him, and he was actually echoing one of his favorite Broadsheet trolls. (He read comments there. I didn’t.) For the last few days, I have been using “Your Husband Must Be So Embarrassed” as the working title of my next bo0k. (I can’t recall if the commenter said “embarrassed” or “ashamed,” but I prefer the former for a title.) And I posted this while he was waiting for me to get away from the fucking computer and have lunch.

    Now back to the topic… (Actually, for the record, I am about to go get on a plane, so I won’t be back for a while.)

  213. My take on what’s been happening here (i.e., the reaction Kate and Snarky’s Machine are getting), as a long-time reader even though I haven’t posted until now:

    Your core readers were(/are?) white women with every privilege except thinness. This was/is their safe space. Over time, you’ve asked them to expand their thinking to include a lot of other -isms. They’ve made room, time and time again, because the focus has stayed in the safe realm of fat and feminism.

    Now, here you are, daring to refuse to treat a racist issue as feminism’s punching bag. Why can’t this be one more topic to pick apart from the standpoint of feminism (how dare we hold a woman accountable for her husband’s actions) and beauty/thin privilege (but maybe we should hold her accountable, rather than letting her get away with stuff just because she’s pretty).

    It’s a tough pill to swallow, y’all. And I get it. People don’t want their safe space invaded with “other people’s” isms. But at the very fucking least, own up, even if just to yourself, that that’s what you’ve been doing.

  214. The irony in that title is pretty rich, Kate. Let’s start with the hurtful, misogynistic slur in the title of a post which goes on to talk about how much -isms hurt those they’re directed at. And then there’s the defensive repeating of what (I assume) was said about you over at the Jezebel post, which seems to be all about how much it hurt *you* to be accused of perpetuating an -ism, in the title of a post which goes on to talk about how much more it hurts to be a victim of -isms than it does to be accused of perpetrating them. That title which depends on the (verbal? situational? forgive me, I’m not an English major; besides which I can’t know whether you intended it. Lol “intent”, there’s another irony for you) irony that of *course* we will instantly know this accusation of having been hurtful is not and could never be true! After all, we like you! You could never intentionally or accidentally hurt someone with your language or your approach to this topic! And we know this because (lol at this point it’s just starting to be funny) you are a nice white lady(-blogger)!

    Look, I agree with your point; a lot about the people we hold up as ideals and the people we give a pass to, the questions we choose to ask and those we let slide, all of that, is informed heavily by racism. I agree with everything you and other commenters have said about the priorities we should have when it comes to witnessing and talking about and understanding and denouncing racist acts. I just don’t think that gives you a pass to display the exact same crap you’re decrying.

  215. Oops, I just realized the fatal flaw in my comment, which is that statements are different coming from a privileged person as opposed to a person who does not benefit from that privilege. Still doesn’t mean I appreciated that seeing that post title when I came over to SP this morning.

  216. Tabatha atwood: Coming into a discussion thread this long and saying “I haven’t read the comments, but here’s what I think” is kinda rude. It’s sort of like interrupting an ongoing conversation to say “I have no idea what you’ve already said on this subject and am not interested in finding out, but here’s MY opinion.” I have personally said almost nothing on this thread because, as I keep reading the comments, I either a) find that someone else has already said what I was thinking or b) read something that changes my mind about what I was thinking. So I’m mostly keeping my mouth shut so that people who know whereof they speak don’t have to deal with meaningless interruptions.

  217. “I think that no one’s life can stand up to 24 hour scrutiny even when you have your own pr machine and we should all get back to worrying about off shore drilling and real healthcare reform and the continuing wars ……”

    Stop that fucking shit now. “Oh, you’re concerned about racism, aren’t there more important things to talk about?” Fucking quit. That’s the most annoying shit in the world when people pull that, and 95% of the time the person suggesting it doesn’t care about any of those things, they just want people to quit harshing their mellow. Or they feel guilty and would like to make other people feel guilty too. DO NOT TRIVIALIZE SOMETHING SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU PERSONALLY AREN’T FEELING THE STING.

    @Something Quite Right, I’m confused, are you saying your hurt over the title of this post is more important than the racial issues discussed within?

    And sorry, but I’m not getting this whole “She doesn’t need to give us an explanation” thing at all. Were this just regular old Sandy down the block I’d be put off, but not at the same level, if she didn’t go, “Oh shit, I didn’t know about this, it’s wrong.” However it’s not, it’s Sandra Bullock, Millionaire Famous Actress. Where did she get those millions from? Us. So there’s even a disgusting chance that all of our money actually went to buying some of JJ’s “collection.” She will no doubt want us to give her more of our money, and even without assuming she is her husband simply because they’re married (because OMG we are not doing that) WE STILL KNOW SHE IS CONDONING THIS BECAUSE SHE HAS NOT SAID ANYTHING.

    She gets to live her dream of being an actress, do you think that in exchange for that she could at least go “Guys, I didn’t know.” The longer she goes without saying something, the more it becomes this trivial thing that people shouldn’t even care about. Just like every other -ism that we as a whole just sweep under the rug. And seriously, sweeping things under the rug doesn’t make anything better, and it doesn’t make them go away, it just makes the rug lumpy.

  218. I think that no one’s life can stand up to 24 hour scrutiny even when you have your own pr machine and we should all get back to worrying about off shore drilling and real healthcare reform and the continuing wars ……

    My poor ladybrain doesn’t have room in it for both Sandra Bullock AND healthcare reform!

  219. something quite like is aiming for some kind of meta-meta-snark, but I guess my ladybrain can’t handle that either.

    Look, we’ve referred to ourselves as “bitches” here before and we will likely do it again. That’s a word we’re reclaiming, along with a lot of other feminists you might have heard of. That ship has long since sailed here, so if you don’t like it, you can make a decision about whether you want to keep reading.

  220. Maybe we could call ourselves Pretty Little Lady Bitches so it wouldnt deliver the sting as much.

    Oooo!! Can anyone help me get this pickle jar lid off while I’m here, I’m just not strong enough!

  221. Alibelle, I am trying to say that I found the title a little upsetting, and also a part of what feels very much like Kate is enacting the same kind of drama that she is writing about. It basically went: upset a bunch of people, cry about how your intentions were the point rather than the message or feelings anyone took away from what you said, imply that *they’re* the ones making hurtful claims, write more defensive stuff about how you’re misunderstood.

    Also, the feeling I had all through this post was that it reminded me a lot of lady-blaming and -shaming I’ve heard before. Not because of Kate’s points about racism and how condoning it is itself a racist act and how the media gives people a pass; those were good and thought provoking points. I just had trouble parsing them through the background buzz of “Sandra Sandra Sandra woman husband woman husband fault fault blame”. I’m just talking about the words used, here, and that constant repetition of her name, and it all made me uncomfortable.

    Sweet Machine, I understand reclaiming and that it is something you and other feminists do. In this context, however, it felt a lot more like part of some defensive act. I kept feeling from the title that we were meant to understand that she’d been accused of horrible things, very unfairly, by a bunch of meanies who think she shouldn’t talk about racism. Which is what I was trying to say. I wasn’t trying to be snarky; I was laughing in confusion and trying to sort out why I felt so icky about a lot of the things in this post and the Jezebel one.

  222. @something quite like

    Get over yourself. This here is a discussion about how our society tolerates the condoning of racism. It’s not a minor topic. It’s not something we can discuss later when we have time for it. We’re talking about it here and now. And, if I’m not mistaken, the title of the post comes from a comment over at Jezebel.

    SB doesn’t owe anyone a statement unless she wants us to keep buying tickets to see her movies. As a Nice White Jewish Lady, I don’t give money to known douchebags. And the longer it takes her to condemn JJ’s schtick, the more I put her in that category.

    She’ll join Mel Gibson, Woody Allen, Charlie Sheen, and a host of others on my “Not Even If It Was The Last Movie On Earth” list…

  223. Liz, I did not miss the point of the discussion. I appreciate the discussion and agree with the salient points. I just felt uncomfortable with the way Kate wrote this topic but since, ironically enough, I’m having trouble putting my finger on why and therefore I’m upsetting you, I’m more than happy to shut up. I apologize.

  224. I have not read all the comments but I think I have a different reaction.

    Why are you commenting then? Do you show up late for a meeting and then try to run it?

  225. @paintmonkey: I have a special tool for opening jars I can’t manage on my own (I do try whacking them off a doorframe first ,but sometimes that doesn’t work). This is because humans are a tool-using problem-solving species, like otters.

    I’m afraid my on-topic thoughts are restricted to “Oh, yes, that!” and “Oh fuck OFF, fuck OFF, FUCK OFF,” depending on whose posts I’m reading; I can’t manage articulate on this topic at the moment. But it’s leading to some unpleasant-feeling and very useful conversations in my actual home, so I’m grateful for that.

  226. Just wanted to drop a quick apology to Kate about my earlier comment questioning why we need to hear a white woman “boiling over” about this subject. This thread, full of well-meaning, articulate, nuanced white women protesting the point, answers clearly why ally voices are needed on subjects like these, as much as that truth may piss me off on occasion.

  227. This thread, full of well-meaning, articulate, nuanced white women protesting the point, answers clearly why ally voices are needed on subjects like these

    Repeated for emphasis.

  228. There have been times when I have been pissed at the way people have reacted to things that weren’t their fault, but I still felt they had a responsibility to make it clear that they didn’t approve of that behavior.

    I remember the stories from Woodstock 99 and Limp Bizkit performing and there were girls getting raped and molested. I am from Jacksonville, where they are from, so it was front page news here for a while. And then I flip through MTV and see a video of theirs and it features some fake newspaper with a headline like “Limp Bizkit says it’s not our fault.”

    I was pissed and I haven’t forgotten it. I wouldn’t have blamed them for what the people who attended their show did, but for them to react that way 1)to act like they were the victims and 2)not making it crystal clear that they didn’t like what happened at their show – well, I just never felt right about them again. As a short, female rock n’ roll lover I actually had a bit of fear, thinking that rock n’ roll shows weren’t a safe place for me. And their reaction was a big part of that because you realize the people with the platform don’t even care about speaking about it.

    The fact that JJ has supposedly hung around with someone with white power tatoos and all this shit and takes a picture like this? I’m not black or Jewish and I know that I won’t have the same visceral reaction to that picture as a Black or Jewish person. But it still pisses me off and makes me very angry. I don’t date people that think racist jokes are funny. I know that it more than just offends people, I know that it is hurtful on a very deep level. And if Sandra is smart she knows that there are some fans out there of hers that think this is hurtful stuff and are wondering what she has to say about it. I know it’s probably difficult for her to speak right now, but I would hope it’s also difficult for her to live with the thought that people think she accepts this kind of behavior and that there are people hurt by seeing this stuff who want to hear it’s not OK by her.

    And Snarkys brought up the point of Crash and other anti-racist statements she made, and how that causes her to be listening now. How strong a belief is can be proven when it is put to test, I think. If she really does strongly have these anti-racist beliefs, now is the time to prove it by actions, if they are that strong then she would know she should do something.

  229. @Ailbhe – “This is because humans are a tool-using problem-solving species, like otters.” Oh, NOW we are talking…Otters are the shithot business – I once saw a giant otter, and I swear that thing could have run a small country given enough gadgets and internet access.

  230. @ paintmonkey

    You know, at the risk of being called a humorless grouch (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time, bitterlol), what I appreciate about your comment ^^ is your attempt at bringing in a little humor to lighten a heavy conversation.

    What I *don’t* appreciate about it — and I certainly know my taste is far from the defining element in this discussion, but I don’t think this is a point that should be ignored, because it’s a fairly classic derailing tactic — is that it also looks to be an attempt to deflect, if not the entire conversation, a substantial portion of it, away from the main points of contention and toward something that more closely resembles Friday Fluff.

    (On a Saturday.)

    Just because the conversation happens to be … *shudder* uncomfortable.

    Which, of course, no one, especially NWLs, should ever be.

    (Has anyone else noticed that last point coming up, and up, and up, at all?)

  231. On the argument that James’s behavior is … working class, rather than racist … WTF? That’s like saying, ‘working class people have such poor taste they don’t know any better and can’t be held to our standards.’ And anyone who thinks that can just fucking stuff it. My multiply mixed and mostly working class family has racists in it, you bet – and let’s stomp right now on the notion that mixed-race families are somehow immune from this shit, before it comes up – but it’s not like they don’t know they’re racists, or that there are some ‘jokes’ that just ought not to be said no matter how fucking funny they think they are. That they tell them anyway means they’re assholes, not that working class folks are ‘just that way.’ Fuck.

  232. “and let’s stomp right now on the notion that mixed-race families are somehow immune from this shit”

    Yeah, let’s definitely do that.

    *stomps w/Eucritta*

  233. @littlem

    Mmmnn…something tells me that you havent bothered to read all my comments further up, which if you had would let you know that in no way am I deflecting what is of course a very serious issue. Also, if you are going to take someone to task, are you really more bothered by a slight joke rather than some of the more heavy meatier stuff further back? Sounds like easy pickings to me, Ma’am. I don’t find anything “uncomfortable” to discuss and would not dream of derailing anything as firstly, I don’t wish to, and secondly, the MODS would be breathing down my neck in a heartbeat and rightly so.
    If we are having a shooting fish in a barrel contest, you win a stuffed otter.

  234. What I *don’t* appreciate about it — and I certainly know my taste is far from the defining element in this discussion, but I don’t think this is a point that should be ignored, because it’s a fairly classic derailing tactic — is that it also looks to be an attempt to deflect, if not the entire conversation, a substantial portion of it, away from the main points of contention and toward something that more closely resembles Friday Fluff.

    My use of humor and snark on this post is definitely to drive home the fact that 95% of the comments aren’t worth a response. For a response would merely validate the very fatuous sentiments expressed in those comments.

    I believe JJ is a racist. I believe SB was fully aware and doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal. And those who don’t agree or who want to argue shades aren’t anti-racist allies and therefore we gots nothing to talk about on this particular topic. I don’t need caveats or clarifications because I’m real clear about this.And white folks can continue to hang wring and debate utterly hilarious shades of racism and apologize for other white folks doing the same. It just makes it really easy for me to separate those who get it and those who don’t. Not that I didn’t know this before. I mean if any of the dramedy unfolding on this thread is shocking to folks, well I guess they haven’t been reading SP comments very long or very closely cause it’s been here all along.

    and thank god for SB for bringing all to the surface!

  235. My husband was looking at his google news reader or whatever, and said aloud, “Why is Sandra Bullock’s name showing up every day?” So I gave him a 2-minute rundown of Jesse James’ publicized offenses. And his only comment when I was done was, “What’s Sandra Bullock doing married to that guy!”

    I approve of that response.

  236. @littlem. You know what – I have paused and reflected and you are right. This post isnt the one for jokes. My bad.

  237. It’s a tough pill to swallow, y’all. And I get it. People don’t want their safe space invaded with “other people’s” isms. But at the very fucking least, own up, even if just to yourself, that that’s what you’ve been doing.

    Hmmm, I’m fat and a whole host of other -isms. Oddly enough they come as a whole set, like dishes. And if the space is safe only for NWL then it isn’t safe much.

  238. @ paintmonkey –

    “This post isn’t the one for jokes”

    Actually? That’s not what I said. I even made one or two upthread. ^^

    I’m going to say the first part of “if you even bothered to read …”, but I’m trying to resist continuing with that line of thought and getting into an otter-flinging contest with you.

    And the reason I’m trying to do that is because it’s yet another classic derail and I’m trying to make as much of an effort as anyone else to stay on topic.

    (And I did read your comments. I’ve been trying to follow the entire conversation, which I think is one of the legitimate ways to see concept patterns emerging.)

  239. On the argument that James’s behavior is … working class, rather than racist … WTF? That’s like saying, ‘working class people have such poor taste they don’t know any better and can’t be held to our standards.’ And anyone who thinks that can just fucking stuff it.

    Repeated for emphasis. I am fucking insulted as a working-class person that people say this kind of bullshit.

  240. As a Jewish reader (and very occasional poster) I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this thread. I’m completely avoiding what I think about Sandra Bullock in particular (What I know about Hollywood could fit in a thimble) but as a Jew I have to respond to the cultural issues.

    I’m a student on a very liberal campus. A very liberal campus that also relatively recently (past few months) has had some serious issues with Nazi-related incidents. I honestly don’t care about Bullock (see previous comment about Hollywood knowledge), but I do care about the society that lets her skate. It’s the reason that while I have a good hunk of privilege from my skin color, I sometimes don’t feel safe telling people my religion. No one should ever feel unsafe, and Nazism, even if not directly targeted at the specific group you (general) belong to, can make you feel unsafe. To a lesser degree than the targeted group, of course, but I will always feel unsafe at a graffitied swastika, like I did when one was spray-painted here at the LGBTQA.

    Nazism includes not just racism (against POC, Jews, Roma, and others) but also homophobia, and in many U.S. groups, sexist and anti-Catholic sentiments. My school was painfully reminded. As someone who is currently student-teaching history to high school students, I not only need to remember, I need to TEACH that, while it has improved since the 1920s, the U.S. has never adequately responded to racism, sexism, anti-religious group (including atheists), or homphobic sentiments at home or abroad. This is just the latest example that we have a long, long way to go.

    I hope that said what I meant… I just felt the need to say something.

  241. My husband was looking at his google news reader or whatever, and said aloud, “Why is Sandra Bullock’s name showing up every day?” So I gave him a 2-minute rundown of Jesse James’ publicized offenses. And his only comment when I was done was, “What’s Sandra Bullock doing married to that guy!”

    I approve of that response.

    Hahah!

  242. @littlem – No, you were right to say something. I shouldnt have made a silly joke, and I’m sorry I fired a heated post your way when you called me on it. Sorry.

  243. @ paintmonkey –

    I’m going to risk a potential derail, o irony, because the mods are wise, and because I think this is a tangent related to the topic.

    I will repeat for the second time — I did NOT say “Please do not make jokes.”

    I will repeat– again — that I’ve made some, and others have made some, that were appropriate to the topic.

    (I think this is also related to the “Why do those people always have to bring up these topics, and why are they always so serious? Can’t they take a joke?” version of deflection.
    I’m also — what’s a good neutral word? “interested” — that I keep observing that mis-read of what I did say.)

    What I was attempting to direct attention to, which perhaps I didn’t do sufficiently emphatically, was what I observed as the intention behind the joke, because of the way the joke was shaped.

    The joke’s intent did not appear an attempt to *re-shape* any part of the topic.

    (see, e.g., any SnarkysMachine quip herein.)

    The joke’s intent appeared to be an attempt to deflect attention *away* from the topic.

    And that intent, NOT the joke itself, is what I was objecting to.

    Clearer now?

  244. littlem – I am clear, completely, and I understand you werent saying anything about no jokes. What I’m trying to now say is that your post made me think about my comments further and I actually do feel I was inappropriate, and am sorry and should have let that filter in before I got all snotty with you. Honestly, I’ve actually been an idiot on this one, and am holding my hands up.

  245. @littlem: FWIW you are absolutely right, the *only* reason I made a jokey response to a sarcastic comment was because I have *nothing* to contribute to the actual discussion… and I knew it and felt really bad about it and tried to defuse that feeling for myself.

  246. Grils! Grils!! You’re killing me here!

    No one is asking – or otherwise encouraging by force or threat of force, so let’s all rid our subconscious minds of those scary references, shall we?? – anyone to put his or her hands up!

    That’s why I keep trying to emphasize there are no. apologies. or. lack. of. jokes. necessary.

    And the reason I keep coming back to this is that I am actively resisting any attempts to be painted as the humorless victim-creator here. Because, lolirony, I *know* that’s relevant.

    So let’s just stop here.

    Unless one of you feels for some reason you’re entitled — and yeah, I dropped that buzzword deliberately in this context — to just *have* to have the last word …

  247. Well in defense of the yuksters, what is there to say? I mean if you feel as though the debate is beyond “racist: yes or no” there just isn’t a lot of sense of wasting SAUs (social attention units) on the discussion. Since most folks aren’t framing their responses as 101 questions, which are FINE and understandable, but rather framing things from a position of unchecked privilege.

    I mean I just don’t know how you seriously respond to that without also giving the initial comment the appearance of legitimacy.

  248. *sigh* Oh, man.

    275 comments in, none of the mods might be up to tweaking the HTML tag I dropped in the flaming unbridled undisciplined passion of my rhetoric, are they …?

  249. @Caitlin and @Snarky’s Machine,

    Okay, I’m white, so I can’t define racism, any more than men can define sexism; fair enough. God knows I’ve seen enough of the latter to accept that I’m likely just as blind about the former. I haven’t experienced it and don’t have the feel for it.

    Would Halle Berry get the same treatment as Sandra Bullock? I don’t know. Would she? I’m sure Jennifer Lopez would get hammered.

  250. Would Halle Berry get the same treatment as Sandra Bullock?

    She didn’t get the same treatment. In fact, she got really hounded about her ex who wasn’t anything but a skirt chasing assclown.

  251. Good point. Was thinking through this discussion; felt socked in the stomach by your response, snarkysmachine; and realised that essentially I had responded to a discussion about racism without having read Racism 101. In the same way that assholes are all the time responding to feminist discussions without reading Feminism 101, and begging “enlighten me!” when, frankly, it’s their own damn job to do that and let the rest of us get on with the much more interesting conversation we were already having, without holding some idiot’s hand.

    So in future I’ll leave blog discussions of racism to people who know something about it.

  252. @snarkysmachine “and thank god for SB for bringing all to the surface!”

    I’ve been feeling this way about this sitch since the beginning, really, even before the awful Nazi bullshit started surfacing. I realize that a lot of people are sick of talking about JJ and SB (I’m referring to reading the comments on gossip sites I frequent) and from a voyeuristic aspect I can get that. But *damn* there are so many worthy topics and gnarled, tangly issues being brought to the surface, and I’m glad there are blogs where we can talk about them. I think it’s important.

    I’m a Nice White Lady who led a fairly sheltered and naive existence for good chunk of my early life, so I don’t feel qualified to comment on many of the issues about racism here. However, I would like to stress that this comment thread has kept my brain busy, and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to articulate their thoughts. I know it’s not your job to school me in Racism 101, but you’ve taught me a lot anyway.

    As for SB….sigh. A few days ago, I thought yeah, maybe she couldn’t say something because of divorce negotiations or being strongly advised by her lawyers to STFU or whatever, but …there seem to be many ways she could issue something along the lines of “I cannot comment on any recent photos or reports in the media regarding Jesse James in any way, but I would like to state strongly for the record that I abhor racism in any form and always have and always will do my best to fight against racism whenever and wherever I can”. I mean, I’m sure her publicist could come up with something a million times better than that, but why haven’t they? It is giving me the mads and the sads.

  253. I hope that this is not a derail (which I further hope is not as instantly damning as “I don’t mean any offense, but”), but I have been struggling with the “good reasons” for not calling out racism noted upthread in a very personal way, lately. Basically, my (new) boss made an obnoxious public statement about grammar capabilities with regard to a job applicant who obviously had learned English as an adult (for a technical position with limited requirements for polished writing in customer interaction) yesterday, and I went off. I pointed out that small errors that out of his mouth would be attributed to haste or overwork were being attributed to a basic lack of skill in this other context and that I thought the double standard was unacceptable. The blowback was unsurprisingly fierce, but I am in a very privileged position with regard to job security and felt an obligation to speak out. And it’s really been making me wonder whether I would have spoken out if I hadn’t been reading this thread beforehand and how often I keep quiet for “good reasons” that are NWL-code for “don’t want the blowback.” I’m grateful that I had a chance to reflect on the meaning of “condone” in such close proximity to the event – thank Alexandra Erin for the clarity!

  254. Hi Kate!

    If, I think I see what you’re saying, but this line of reasoning is also often a pillar of active victim-blaming, so it makes me really uncomfortable. A lot of people who are in emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships feel like they can’t leave precisely because the abuse is all about making them feel powerless, unloveable and dependent. It can also be dangerous to leave a relationship like that, on top of a dozen other practical reasons why it’s incredibly difficult. And women who don’t leave abusers are often accused of bringing it on themselves, of secretly wanting it, of being “just as bad” themselves, of driving him to it — “making him that way” — of not really being victims because if it was that bad, they’d obviously leave, etc.

    So while it’s true that relationships are about the dynamics between two people — and it’s also true that not leaving a (non-abusive) bigot is a different thing from not leaving an abusive relationship — the way power influences that dynamic can be very different from couple to couple. So I wouldn’t extrapolate your mom’s experience to every relationship, because that way lies endorsing old and harmful stereotypes about domestic abuse victims.

    You’re absolutely right, and I wasn’t as careful or comprehensive as I should have been in my previous post. FWIW, I’d characterize my father as emotionally abusive, and would have to agree that a lot of what you’ve outlined (feeling “powerless, unloveable, and dependent”) applied to my mom — despite the absence of (apparent?) physical threat, and despite her being a well-educated professional who would have had the material resources to get out if she’d decided to do so. With hindsight, she says that she ‘takes responsibility’ for these things — but fifteen years ago, I think she’d been worn down to the point where she probably, in truth, could not have done so.

    I definitely don’t want to argue that women in abusive relationships bring these things upon themselves — and you’re correct, of course, that the endpoint of some of my reasoning is that very argument.

    Sigh. I’m try for critical distance… but on this one, I’m so frigging ambivalent and confused, because I’m still trying to parse my own personal history, I’ve clearly failed. Thanks for calling me on it.

  255. Snarky’s Machine wrote: “I mean if any of the dramedy unfolding on this thread is shocking to folks, well I guess they haven’t been reading SP comments very long or very closely cause it’s been here all along.

    and thank god for SB for bringing all to the surface!”

    This is what has been keeping me silent as I watch this thread unfold. I mean, I have been amazed that at “this” site…where enlightenment rules the day….I am seeing the gammut of responses being played out here. It’s hitting me right between the eyes because I “thought” most of us were pretty good at keeping our privilege in check and spotting ass-ism the moment it rears its ugly head. But this thread seems to have pushed all sorts of buttons….and I’m trying to figure out why.

    Is it because it’s about Sandra Bullock? America’s Sweetheart? Is it because most of us NWLs thought we had it all figured out and couldn’t possibly be harboring any racist abling ways? Is it because we don’t like to think about it, or ourselves as someone who would allow racist acts to occur? Is it even because we saw an imbalance in SB and JJ’s relationship from the get-go and are surprised she hadn’t seen that imbalance (who the hell am I to judge that anyway?) before now?

    I don’t know what it is for anyone else here, but I appreciate a good “check your motives” moment because it enhances my existence. It moves me into a different arena of life and deepens my true understanding of those who are different than myself….and I LIKE that. It’s why I come to SP and read other blogs that challenge my view of the world. It’s why I went into social work in college and studied sociology and women’s studies, and minority studies courses…..to be able to see the world beyond my corn-bred lily white privileged world.

    Seeing the broad spectrum of responses and belief systems and levels of “enlightment” unfold here…for me…is a learning experience that I welcome. It upsets the apple cart, and replaces them with mangoes and prickly pears. (And yes, I do realize what a privilege that is for me to be able to see it that way without much fear of persecution or a who-do-you-think-you-are? dressing down.) So, for Kate to question what was wrong with NOT asking SB for a response about the ass-antics of her husband and the backlash it has received…just shows me how far we still have yet to go towards true equality.

  256. I know this is super late, but I just wanted to comment how much I love this quote from Alexandra Erin:

    “Because the idea that not saying/doing anything about it doesn’t mean she condoned it is kind of… um… contradictory. That’s what condoning is. Letting something pass. Letting something slide. There’s no difference between “letting something slide” and “merely not doing anything to stop something from sliding”. Really. There isn’t.”

    I was never very fond of Sandra Bullock to begin with, but this is just the icing on the cake for me. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of being able to NOT saying anything when your SO does racist… nonsense. Ahem.

  257. I should qualify that: not that I have never abused my privilege and ignored racist behaviour before, just that my (short) dating career has never been a place where I’ve been willing or able to ignore it.

  258. Classism? CLASSISM??!! Jesse James is a gazillionaire. Besides being married to Sandra Bullock, he’s been in the money for years now with his show, motorcycle skillz, and various other side businesses. So if you’re calling this classism, it’s because you’re perceiving his lifestyle, or look, or choice of career, or whatever, as being low-class. Which makes YOU the classist jerk, not this argument.

    Sincerely, a low class white trash girl from Mississippi who grew up in the woods, used to ride on the back of my daddy’s dirtbike without a helmet when I was three, and was expected to grow up and marry a guy like Jesse James.

  259. Everyone here has written me a pretty big reality check and I thank you for it even as I sit here shivering. The chances that she really had no idea seem increasingly thin but, she’s not the only person in the world. Lots of people have suddenly found out terrible things about the people closest to them.

    I’m worried that I don’t REALLY know anyone I think I know.

  260. “Sincerely, a low class white trash girl from Mississippi who grew up in the woods, used to ride on the back of my daddy’s dirtbike without a helmet when I was three, and was expected to grow up and marry a guy like Jesse James.”

    I don’t know the actual roots of the phrase “white trash,” but I’d steer clear of it, at least in this discussion. I’ve always taken it to mean someone low class and white. Like you have to add white to the front of it, because all black people are trash, and it’s new and different for a white person to be that way. I live in Missouri, so it’s said a lot around here and that’s pretty much how I hear it used. It’s possible it means something different, but, just saying.

  261. This was a fabulous Sunday morning read. I am impressed by the mods to the nth degree for their skilled writing and explanations.

  262. @Alibelle – I tried go explain this exact same thing on another thread the other day and got nothing but hostility. It’s not something I will say again for the precise reasons you give.

  263. Coming very late to this, since as someone Jewish and German (waves to Snarkys machine) I couldn’t come up with something coherent to say.

    However, I would like to make one point. I think there are two separate issues here – whether celebrities should have such a role in society that they are headline news and need to make statements on both personal issues and things of wider public importance; and whether Sandra Bullock’s silence on the whole affair is an acceptable response – and conflating them is not terribly helpful. I would love to see a world where random celebrities don’t dominate the news cycle, but that’s a different wish, and a different conversation. Famous people do have a certain amount of prominence, and if, given that background, they choose not to respond to a set of images, then I generally judge them based on the media world now, and thus they end up seeming to be condoning racism at best and nakedly racist at worst.

    Or to put it another way – I have nothing against celebrities asking for privacy. But if SB is asking to be left alone now – or the press are allowing her to say nothing and applauding the decision – rather than when asked about the Oscars, plastic surgery or why Speed 2 was a bad idea, then that’s sending an equally ugly message about racism…that it’s a private matter, not something we need to discuss, not something that Nice White viewers need to worry about happening…or doing…

    And RoseRose – you’ve said a lot that I couldn’t put into words.

  264. I would love to see a world where random celebrities don’t dominate the news cycle, but that’s a different wish, and a different conversation.

    Excellent point, Loz, and I do think people mistaking this for that conversation is part of the problem.

  265. @msjacks – I think it was my use of “classism” that you were responding to. I was not speaking of Jesse James; I don’t know anything about him. I was speaking of SB and suggesting that she was getting a pass because SHE’S somehow perceived as being in a higher class (as an “America’s Sweetheart”, or just the impression that she’s a “high-class lady”) than the majority of people, and of celebrities, all of whom would be attacked for a similar silence. However as other contributors have pointed out class and race are by no means easily distinguishable in American culture; I hadn’t thought it through, or considered the obvious point that the popular perception of her ‘high-class’-ness is linked to her race. But I wasn’t commenting on James.

  266. Thanks a lot for this post, Kate. It took me a while to get my head round it, it’s a bit meta and theory-ish for me. But I’ve carefully read through the comments and learned a great deal from them.

    Regarding Slythwolf’s much admired “White people don’t get to define racism” comment and that subthread: my experience has been that as a woman I have learned a lot about sexism from men, as a Queer person I have learned a lot about homophobia from straight people, as a Jew I have learned a lot about antisemitism from gentiles, as a fat person I have learned a lot about fatphobia from thin people (including our own Sweet Machine and other wonderful Shapelings like Volcanista). However, I am absolutely prepared to believe that skin colour racism works differently from this. Lots of people I respect and admire (not least Snarkysmachine and others in this thread) have weighed in on Slythwolf’s side of this topic. Doesn’t feel intuitive to me, but I’m willing to go along with it.

    Just, now I seem to be painting myself into a corner because I am now in the process of learning something really important from, well, Kate and slythwolf, namely two white people. And that important thing is partly that I shouldn’t listen to white people on the subject of racism so much. Breaking my brain a bit.

  267. And that important thing is partly that I shouldn’t listen to white people on the subject of racism so much.

    Well, I don’t think that’s what they’re saying, individ-ewe-al (love your name btw!). I think what Slythwolf meant was not that white people don’t get to talk about racism or educate on it, but that we don’t get to DENY it, just like any other person from a privileged class does not have the right to deny that a non-privileged person/class is being oppressed. We don’t get to say that someone isn’t being racist when a Black person says they are. But we can still talk about its existence.

  268. I’ve been away for a few days and this is the first I’ve heard of all this. This guy sounds like a most unpleasant fellow and yes, racist. I’m not sure whether I would expect a woman, of any colour, to comment or denounce a man she is already in the process of divorcing. I don’t think that’s a “nice white lady” pass, just that I think it’s reasonable for her to think she’s already quite distanced from him enough. However, I agree with Kate that it would probably be a better PR move for Bullock if she did.

    In regards to the wider issue of “using Nazi imagery for laffs”, I would point there is a long tradition of anti-Nazi humour (Monty Python skits come to mind). I don’t think this makes light of the horrible crimes and murders committed by the Nazis at all. On the contrary, I think humour is one of the most powerful weapons we have against totalitarian regimes and racist ideology. Making fun of Nazis is a political act and arguably robs them of their potency. It’s not laughing at the horrible things they do; it’s laughing at their self-importance and ridiculous beliefs and rituals.

    In no way am I suggesting that this is what Jesse James was doing. The facts (his personal history and the way the photo is framed) suggest otherwise. I don’t see anything humorous in this particular photo.

    I agree with @SJL on the issue of calling Nazis racist. They certainly were, and not just against Jews. I’ll leave the “are Jews a race” argument for others.

    @hsofia A /b/tard is a member of the /b/ bulletin board on 4chan.org. They are responsible for a lot of internet trolling and juvenile hack attacks. They are also the source of the Anonymous anti-Scientologist campaign. I believe they are also the original source of popular internet memes like LOLcats.

  269. I am not a Doctor, hell I’m barely a Blogger. I suspect when you find a bad boy who convinces you he loves you, who has been married twice before, the last wife a heavily tatooed Porn star who physically beat up and verbally harrassed your bad boy on The Discovery Channel you may have problems separating harmless bad boy humor from serious bad boy humor.
    Shoot we all make mistakes, often many in a row, most of us only have a few friends to laugh and point at us not the whole world.
    We are all a little in love with Sandra, why is she so dumb?

  270. I didn’t address Kate’s point that Bullock is being let off more lightly than many other women would be. Since I’ve been away from the media for a few days and this is the first I’ve heard of it, I don’t really know. But I can imagine she might be, just because for some reason, she’s so popular. “America’s Sweetheart” and all that. It might be a Nice White Lady thing, though I suspect there are other less popular but equally white actresses who might be given more grief over it.

  271. DW and Alibelle: Seriously, do not dare tell me not to use the term “white trash” as a self-identifier when it’s been lobbed against me for so much of my life and when at least one of you admits to not knowing exactly what it means. I have spent much of my life picking apart the possible racist implications of the term, while constantly defending myself while people call me that. It’s a term coined by rich whites, so there is power in taking it back.

    I really, REALLY don’t need anybody to “explain” this to me.

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