Zuky takes on the Lieberman blackface flap of several weeks ago, addressing it on the terms by which the creator(s) wanted it to be addressed. And still finds that it fails. It is an artistic critique as much as a serious political one. This is the level of engagement that people should be doing a lot more of. ("Radicals" and other "examiners," I'm talking to you).
Go there to read the whole thing. I just want to highlight a bit that I particularly like, here:
In fairness to the PC-haters and other erstwhile champions of controversial imagery, I should note that on one level they're right: cultural expression should not be policed in any way. I don't mean to suggest that offensive imagery should be censored. As far as I'm concerned, you should say and publish any damn thing you choose. And then I'll say and publish any damn thing I choose about what you said. Don't blame me if your own foolishness sticks to you. Free speech means freedom to speak like an idiot, I suppose. Free speech isn't at issue in this discussion; the substantive meaning and value of a specific image is.
I also like this, from a follow-up post:
I'm not saying that anyone should remain silent in the face of swift-boat attacks. I'm just saying, come correct, with proper perspective and proportional angst — and an understanding of the points you claim to be addressing rather than stereotype-laden cliches. I'm saying, part of what makes us progressive is an open mind and a good heart. Lashing out with gleeful vitriol against every critic is ridiculous. Wielding the pixel-packet volume of FDL's megaphone for the sole purpose of trying to humiliate and heap derision on an African-American woman whose causes you self-righteously claim to defend is beyond ridiculous. And it's a step backward on the difficult path to the America that many of us hope to live in.
And while obviously I agree with Kai wrt the specific issue of FDL and Liza, you can remove that sentence and have that passage apply to just a lot of similar issues that keep cropping up in various contexts as I have observed it, at least; again and again and again.
I'm saying, part of what makes us progressive is an open mind and a good heart.
Yes. Thank you. And it is possible to cultivate these things and not become, as I suspect is the fear of many such folks on the newly re-energized left, wussy sellouts, ready to cave to The Enemy at the slightest breeze, terrified of genuine, legitimate anger, unable or unwilling to do what it takes to WIN, dammit. Lord knows there's plenty of that about as well; I sympathize with the fire-breathers to a great extent. Obviously.
And yet, and yet. It isn't enough. Claiming your anger is necessary but not sufficient. For one thing, the hardcore right does the "ruthless people" act better and always will; for another, more important, after a certain point it starts to undercut everything you supposedly stand for. As a progressive, liberal, humanist, "decent person," what you will. Finally: sooner or later you're gonna flame out. If you need to stoke that much fire in the belly just to get to your goal, well, you might get your goal; but chances are good that before you do--maybe, if you're "lucky," after--you'll burn up from the inside out. Maybe including politically. Maybe not. But what does it profit a persyn to gain the whole world if sie loseth hir only soul? More pragmatically: ulcers and heart attacks: Not Good. Making more enemies than friends: doubleplus ungood. And neither is the profound mistrust of humanity it takes to maintain that position of defensiveness all the time. When that happens, you really start to see where, indeed, the personal is political: that cynical, misanthropic attitude tends to reflect itself in one's ideology and, even more so, in one's policies.
In which case: and we're supporting/voting for you, why, again?
There are different routes to strength and power. I think what zuky is saying here is that there is a better one than the one FDL (for example) seems to be grasping for. Anyway, that's what I'm saying.
On edit: Another relevant passage from Gloria Anzaldua, via Slant Truth:
But it is not enough to stand on the opposite river bank, shouting questions, challenging patriarchal, white conventions. A counterstance locks one into a duel of oppressor and oppressed; locked in mortal combat, like the cop and the criminal, both are reduced to a common denominator of violence. The counterstance refutes the dominant culture’s views and beliefs, and, for this, it is proudly defiant. All reaction is limited by, and dependent on, what it is reacting against. Because the counterstance stems from a problem with authority–outer as well as inner–it’s a step towards liberation from cultural domination. But it is not a way of life. At some point, on our way to a new consciousness, we will have to leave the opposite bank, the split between the two mortal combatants somehow healed so that we are on both shores at once and, at once, see through serpent and eagle eyes. or perhaps we will decide to disengage from the dominant culture, write it off altogether as a lost cause, and cross the border into a wholly new and seperate territory. Or we might go another route. The possibilities are numerous once we decide to act and not react.