It Was Probably Rodeo Classism

by Belle Waring on August 12, 2013

Missouri had its annual State Fair just now. Our overseas readers may be interested in State Fairs. They have food, and rigged carnival games, and ancient tilt-a-whirl rides of dubious stability being tended to by men whose facial hair choices are, if possible, yet more dubious, each with a Marlboro dangling from their lower lip, or a Newport, or, OK maybe they’re chewing tobacco, and, indeed it could be snuff, I admit. They all look ‘shifty-eyed’ if they haven’t gotten waaaay down to the end of the line and look ‘actively malevolent/probably a serial killer who will murder a small child at the close of the fair and ritualistically use its blood to lubricate the “Roll-O-Plane” as he does in his grim trek through all 48 states, every year since 1996.’ State Fairs also always involve judging the quality of cows, pigs, chickens, blah, emus, blah, Kodiak bears (I haven’t researched Alaska’s 4H offerings) that have been raised by children in the 4H program. The 4H program teaches children how to raise cows, or—oh wev. They often judge pies and stuff also and then make pronouncements: “Mrs. Henrietta Criswell, your sweet potato pie is the finest in all of Missouri!” and then probably she’s carried around on people’s shoulders while they sing “for she’s a jolly good fellow.” Food endemic to carnivals, such as funnel cake, is always served, and then there are state specialities, like in the unnamed square states in the middle of the country, where they fry sticks of butter. At the Maryland State Fair two competing Baptist churches sell crab cake sandwiches. Compete on, brothers and sisters in crab-cake agape. Compete on. I prefer one but can’t remember which so always need to eat both. Missouri’s State Fair has rodeos on account of its location…ah…not out West at all but RODEO no backsies. Rodeos are actually very fun to watch (I’ve only seen them on TV, but it was fun.)

Well, someone’s in trouble tonight! Because they had one of the rodeo clowns (who have the actually quite dangerous job of distracting the enraged bull so that the thrown or injured rider can get out of the ring) wear an Obama mask. Oh no, you’re thinking. Oh yes, sorry, this is going where you thought: a kick right in the balls of racial harmony. Allow me to prëempt a certain type of stupid First Amendmentry by noting that the Fair got $400,000 from the state to put this on. This was not a private racist rodeo.

[Audience member Perry Beam reports:] “Basically, a clown wearing a mask of President Barack Obama came out during the bull riding event at the fair. The crowd was asked if it wanted to see Obama ‘run down by a bull. We’re going to smoke Obama, man,’ says announcer…[this is met with wild cheers and applause] Egged on by the crowd and the announcer, one of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy. Finally, a bull came close enough to him that he had to move, so he jumped up and ran away to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands.”

Ha, ha, ha. You thought you were OK, right? Then you got to “bobbling the lips on the mask” and you doubled over in agony, suddenly immobilized by a kind of vicarious shame and embarrassment, amirite? Kick right. In. The. Junk, people, I warned you.

ETA: the rodeo clown also has a broomstick stuck up his a$S, something I hadn’t really focused on till it was pointed out by Uncle Kvetch in comments. As I said, I’m just praying no one in Missouri every travels to NY and knew anything about Abner Louima ever or I will die more.

{ 125 comments }

1

Anon. 08.12.13 at 9:52 am

I love how Crooked Timber doesn’t bother with silly topics like the NSA spying on Americans. What really matters is a dude wearing a mask in a rodeo. Daring, scathing commentary!

Keep on fighting the good fight!

2

Tamarind 08.12.13 at 10:13 am

Quiggin and Robin have both written about the NSA this summer.

3

pedant 08.12.13 at 10:19 am

Well, Anon., when the central topic of conversation on this blog for the last week or so has been the persistence of racism and racial animus in American culture, then it’s pretty clear that NSA surveillance would be about as irrelevant as your comment.

Belle, on the tenth anniversary of the blog, a lot of us wished that you would post more. Now we’re getting our wish, and it’s great stuff. Keep it up! I only worry: is it healthy for *you*? This sudden burst feels somehow like the manic phase of manic depression. I worry that you are going to burn yourself out, and then we won’t hear from you again for years.

Still, let us sport us while we may and all; it’s your call, and it’s great to hear from you.

p.s. took me a while to think what “bobbling his lips” might mean. I assume it involves placing one’s index finger horizontally between one’s slightly-parted lips, and oscillating it (literally!) vertically while humming, typically in order to express derision or contempt? I have never heard that phrase, but then I have also never heard any other phrase used for that behavior either. Do other languages lexicalize it? Do other cultures practice it?

4

Belle Waring 08.12.13 at 10:32 am

Can you imagine how truly awful it would be if one of the quite numerous bloggers on the Crooked Timber roster were to discuss something that didn’t directly impact a white man? It seems likely that the entire internet might shrivel up and die. Therefore, dearest Anonymous friend, it is very important that when any of the male Crooked Timber posters writes on any topics other than warrantless wiretapping over the next 30 days you jump right in and question them as to why. Otherwise a person might be inclined to think you were motivated by sexism rather than visceral panic about the 4th Amendment. Keep fighting the good fight, Anon.! Looking forward to seeing you really quite frequently indeed!

5

Belle Waring 08.12.13 at 10:44 am

pedant: I have been wasting really rather a lot of time getting into arguments about sexism with Gawker commenters. And sometimes io9 commenters. Yes, sometimes I read Kotaku and–Don’t–no–zbbt–I know. A lot of time. Like, many hours. My husband has suggested I find a more useful hobby, which does not make me want to kill people, quite as much. For all the damn typing I’m doing I might as well write to y’all.

You are correct as to the movement of the bobbling but no humming or derision by the person in the mask was intended. Imagine the most parodic blackface in the world, with great big ol’ red lips, or white as may be, and then imagine a clown not in blackface running up to perform the physical action you suggest, mockingly calling out the great big lips for all to see…it is not a pretty picture.

6

Main Street Muse 08.12.13 at 10:52 am

First of all, the idea of dueling crab cakes offered by competing Baptist Churches is intriguing, though I have a feeling a MO State Fair crab cake cannot possibly be good.

I saw Bob Dylan play at the IL state fair once; he was incredible. Very weird location though to see the voice of the 1960s protest in a location that also showcased the famous butter cow (sculpted entirely of butter.)

In terms of the Obama mask, at least one member of the audience likened it to a Klan rally. http://bit.ly/13SeMMs

In my personal observations, purely anecdotal, the election of a black president seems to have heightened the long simmering racism of a particular demographic – making this hatred much more open and visible. I have a feeling there were never any Reagan or GW Bush rodeo clowns in MO. Southern Strategy has perhaps been good for GOP but is very bad for the country as a whole.

The bleeding of the rather thick vein of American racism is indeed a topic worthy of discussion. And Belle has a strong and interesting voice.

7

Anders Widebrant 08.12.13 at 11:13 am

Nitpick: I think “nameless square states” would have dipped deeper into the Lovecraft.

But yes please do spend more time here and less Gawking! Not that I’ve been able to resist the Call of Kotaku (AS IT WERE) – they seem so impressionable at first, so amenable to a bit of information, but then they start replying.

8

SamChevre 08.12.13 at 12:16 pm

MSM @ 5
I have a feeling there were never any Reagan or GW Bush rodeo clowns in MO.

Not a clown, exactly, but a dummy. (The dummies are used like a cape in bullfighting–to get the bull to run at them rather than the clown.)

9

marcel 08.12.13 at 12:20 pm

Well, others (pedant and AW) got there before me, but it’s wonderful to see the return of our very own Southron, Belle. Please set awhile, and if you leave us again, be sure to come back now ya hear. We appreciate you more than those vulgarians at Gawking (and what’s Kotaku anyway?), and judging from too many of the comments, you are not preaching entirely to the converted.

10

pedant 08.12.13 at 12:32 pm

SamChevre–

‘course, in 1994 that was a dummy of George HW Bush, i.e. 42, rather than a dummy of GW Bush as requested.

Still, I’ll grant you it’s weird, and somewhat relevant. The elder Bush was two years out of office by then, and reviled by all right-thinking conservatives for having lost to Clinton, having agreed to trivial increases in tax-rates in order to balance the budget, and having shown some minimal deference to international law by not turning the defense of Kuwait into an all-out invasion of Iraq.

Mostly I’m surprised that he was even relevant enough to be worth ridiculing. But it’s a data-point, I grant you.

11

Walt 08.12.13 at 12:38 pm

Original anonymous dude: were you in a fucking coma? Did you just discover the site literally today? Every goddamn post in June was about NSA spying.

12

t.gracchus 08.12.13 at 12:43 pm

$400,000 from the state for the fair does not alter the First Amendment application, which is not interesting in this case anyway.

13

Joshua W. Burton 08.12.13 at 12:43 pm

Kodiak bears (I haven’t researched Alaska’s 4H offerings)

We had an afternoon to kill around Anchorage in August 2008, and wound up attending the AK state fair in Palmer, three days before the former mayor of nearby Wasilla got famous. The birch syrup was our best find of the day.

14

Barry 08.12.13 at 12:56 pm

Sort of like the last few years,where right-thinking right-wingers have erased Dubya from their hearts.

15

Rmj 08.12.13 at 1:25 pm

I did like the comments of Perry Beam, whom the AP described as a “48 year old musician from Higginsville:

“It was the usual until the very end at bull riding,” he said. “As they were bringing the bulls into the chute and prepping them … they bring out what looks like a dummy. The announcer says ‘Here’s our Obama dummy, or our dummy of Obama.

“They mentioned the president’s name, I don’t know, 100 times. It was sickening,” Beam said. “It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally you’d see on TV.”

Beam, who grew up attending the State Fair and attends the fair just about every year, said he has never seen anything like the Obama mask display, which he felt was inappropriate for a state-sanctioned event that receives state funding.

“This isn’t the Republican Missouri State Fair,” Beam said. “It was cruel. It was disturbing. I’m still sick to my stomach over it. … I’m standing here with a mixed-race family. My wife’s from Taiwan, and so was the student (his family was hosting). I’ve never seen anything so blatantly racist in my life.

“If an old country boy picks up on something like that, imagine what a person of color would think.”

16

Vance Maverick 08.12.13 at 1:28 pm

The crab cakes remind me of an early Rex Stout (Fer-de-Lance?), in which Archie is able to introduce Nero Wolfe to the joys of the Methodist chicken fricassee tent.

And the depressing rodeo clown story is a perfect example of the kind of facts that are bound to be read in opposing ways by members of opposing tribes, with no prospect of disambiguation.

17

Main Street Muse 08.12.13 at 1:32 pm

To SamChevre @07 – I stand corrected! Funny though that, as Pedant notes, the other prez used as a “dummy” was the conservative so liberal as to raise taxes and lose to Clinton.

Wonder if the appearance of the GWH Bush dummy came with vile, hateful commentary like that spewed at the MO fair.

18

LizardBreath 08.12.13 at 1:46 pm

14: Some Buried Caesar. It’s the one with the prize bull, where Lily Rowan shows up for the first time.

19

Uncle Kvetch 08.12.13 at 1:55 pm

Great post, Belle, but I’m afraid you missed a spot:

A rodeo stunt at the Missouri State Fair has come under criticism after a clown donned a Barack Obama mask and stuck a broom up his backside.

“You got gay panic in my racism! You got racism in my gay panic! Hey…y’know what?”

20

Vance Maverick 08.12.13 at 2:00 pm

16: thank you! And she called Archie Escamillo…

The (refined and highly Healyesque) layout of this blog has a curious feature, in all the browsers I use — if you start from the front page, and click on the top article link, nothing changes. None of the text moves so much as a pixel. True, the color of the article’s title changes, but most days that’s too subtle for me.

Also, the clown mock-sodomized himself? I’m confused.

21

Donald A. Coffin 08.12.13 at 2:21 pm

The definitive look at state fair food, Indiana edition: http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/adventures-in-indiana-state-fair-food-2013/

22

Belle Waring 08.12.13 at 2:31 pm

Uncle Kvetch: I..WTF! If anyone involved has ever heard of the Abner Louima case then I really am going to throw up.

23

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.13 at 2:33 pm

“You got gay panic in my racism! You got racism in my gay panic! Hey…y’know what?”

This is a sad part of opposing almost everything that Obama does from the left. Normally you can’t go too far wrong with mockery of powerful people. But with Obama, only a tiny fraction of the people who think he’s a bad President are all about the Grand Bargains and failure to stop talking about the deficit and the sabotage of single-payer and the near-complete failure on global warming and the drone assassinations and, yes, the NSA spying. Most of them are all about the Kenyan Muslim gay panic. As a result, there’s nowhere for the left to go, electorally. He was always the lesser evil, because the GOP is the vehicle for plain old evil.

The comments on the newspaper article are cool, if by “cool” you mean that you like to have stereotypes confirmed.

24

Mao Cheng Ji 08.12.13 at 2:58 pm

I’m reminded of the Byzantine Empire, 6th century: Constantinople, the Hippodrome, the mimes. Only they had the Green and the Blue parties, instead of the Blue and the Red…

25

ajay 08.12.13 at 3:24 pm

22: violence between green-team and blue-team supporters (distinguishing themselves on religious grounds as well as by which sports team they support) isn’t just for Byzantines. Ask any Glaswegian…

26

mud man 08.12.13 at 3:26 pm

Can’t help wonder why the point about state funding … more creeping secularism, I suppose. The problem here is not that the Comptroller’s Morality Police were asleep. The problem here is that this really did reflect the Will of the People, which is what a democratic government is supposed to be doing.

27

politicalfootball 08.12.13 at 3:35 pm

And the depressing rodeo clown story is a perfect example of the kind of facts that are bound to be read in opposing ways by members of opposing tribes, with no prospect of disambiguation.

I don’t think this is quite right. Both tribes read it basically the same way: at best, utter indifference to the racial implications of behavior. Only one tribe thinks this is a bad thing.

28

Jeffrey Davis 08.12.13 at 3:45 pm

I like state fairs. I like the silly games on the midway. The rides. The food judging. The animal displays. The whole shebang. I even like the Texas obsession with deep frying everything.

And if state fairs are too enormous, there are county fairs which squeeze most of the above into around 20 acres. For years, my wife’s family took a box at the county fair from which we could watch the horse shows. We’d sit in the August heat, and the cicadas would compete with her 90 year old aunt who hollared, “Rack on!” while the hackney carts raced around the track.

Agriculture fairs aren’t chic or edgy, and the horse shows are hobbies of the well off and goofy. But you like what you like.

29

Ronan(rf) 08.12.13 at 3:51 pm

“and then there are state specialities, like in the unnamed square states in the middle of the country, where they fry sticks of butter. “

This surely cant be true? Surely!?

30

Trader Joe 08.12.13 at 3:52 pm

He’s a rodeo -CLOWN – right?

Part of his job is to make people laugh (in addition to keeping the bull off the rider)….clearly the gag was tasteless and I’m sure it was uncomfortable for the families in the crowd who had no reason to expect that brand of humor at a rodeo, but anyone who’s attended a comedy club to the last 20 years has encountered racist humor, its practically a comedic staple.

Wasn’t the point of the entire “Everyone’s a racist” strand to suggest that as much as we as a people might like to pretend racism doesn’t happen, it absolutely does and that goes for open mic night as well as the “Country Club” charity tea. The Roedeo was just a public display of what 100+ posters identified as a more normally private pursuit.

As a society the choice is condone (usually via inaction) or condemn. Its a no brainer to condemn the rodeo clown, but firing him doesn’t solve for the portion of the audience that laughed at what he did. That’s the much tougher nut to crack.

31

politicalfootball 08.12.13 at 4:07 pm

The Roedeo was just a public display of what 100+ posters identified as a more normally private pursuit.

I contest your use of the word “just” here. It’s a pretty big deal when racists don’t feel constrained about acting out in public.

32

Jeffrey Davis 08.12.13 at 4:08 pm

re: deep fried butter

Butter, beer, Mars Bars, alligator

I’m sure there’s a dozen or more such things. Welcome to Texas.

33

ajay 08.12.13 at 4:18 pm

Can’t help wonder why the point about state funding … more creeping secularism, I suppose.

Wait, is the argument here that a rodeo is a religious observance? And thus that state funding for one contravenes the Establishment Clause?

Belle, I think this is outside your speciality; do we have any Texans here who could confirm this?

34

Trader Joe 08.12.13 at 4:19 pm

@29
Fair point….the “just” wasn’t intended to minimize and that’s not what I meant to convey…if I could edit it out I would.

35

Daniel 08.12.13 at 4:21 pm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2389798/Oprah-Winfrey-branded-liar-Swiss-sales-assistant-racist-handbag-row.html

Breaking but unsurprising news: OPRAH WINFREY LIED about the Swiss saleslady refusing to show her the $36,000 Tom Ford handbag. Winfrey lied about the particulars of the exchange with the saleslady and in the general sense that she was being profiled. Turns out the saleslady did what she did with all her clients, great and small, she first showed Winfrey the handbag that she, the saleslady, thought was the best and then moved on to show her the Tom Ford.

Yes, I believe the saleslady over Winfrey. Read the story, judge for yourself.

36

js. 08.12.13 at 4:32 pm

I am also extremely confused by the fried butter thing. Because if I am understanding correctly: the stick of butter is that which is fried!, as opposed to that in which is fried. At which point, what is the butter fried in? Also, why?

Anyway, the broom was pretty much the first thing I noticed when I clicked on the link. At which point, I just had to leave my computer alone for half an hour.

37

Walt 08.12.13 at 4:35 pm

Daniel, so you automatically believe the white person over the black person. Interesting.

38

Daniel 08.12.13 at 4:36 pm

>> Daniel, so you automatically believe the white person over the black person. Interesting.

No, I believe the hardworking, humble saleswomen over the prima donna.

39

Ronan(rf) 08.12.13 at 4:46 pm

And the fried beer, how does that even work? Is it just pouring beer into a deep fat frier, and then drinking it?

40

JanieM 08.12.13 at 4:50 pm

41

Phil 08.12.13 at 4:55 pm

I am not even thinking about following that link. I’m not even looking at that link. No, no, no.

42

Ronan(rf) 08.12.13 at 4:57 pm

43

Peter Hovde 08.12.13 at 4:59 pm

“They all look ‘shifty-eyed’ if they haven’t gotten waaaay down to the end of the line and look ‘actively malevolent/probably a serial killer who will murder a small child at the close of the fair and ritualistically use its blood to lubricate the “Roll-O-Plane” as he does in his grim trek through all 48 states, every year since 1996.’ “

OK, this should totally be a Hannibal, or even Criminal Minds episode.

44

mpower69 08.12.13 at 5:10 pm

The president is african-american, therefore all parody and/or criticism of the president is based in racism. Got it.

For a while there we thought the president’s lousy record and plummeting approval numbers had something to his poor performance, lack of leadership/truthfulness, and general incompetence. But now we understand that it’s just racism because the president is not white. He would be on-track for the greatest presidency in two centuries if it weren’t for those terrible racists always bringing him down…

45

Random Lurker 08.12.13 at 5:26 pm

@Daniel
The story was reported also on italian newspapers. The italian version isn’t as bad for OW as the clerk says her english is “ok but not excellent” so maybe there was a misunderstanding.
See my comment 154 here:
http://crookedtimber.org/2013/08/09/awkward-conversations-we-have-had/#comment-477551

(Also, ha! I wrote this first

46

JW Mason 08.12.13 at 5:36 pm

I agree with the the chorus: More Belle!

Did anyone else read the opening riff of this post and think immediately of Wells Towers’ story “On the Show”? Unfortunately the text doesn’t seem to be online, but it’s in his collection, which I really recommend if you read contemporary short fiction at all. A great description of that whole scene, especially the shifty-eyed malevolence.

47

Billikin 08.12.13 at 5:36 pm

mpower69: “The president is african-american, therefore all parody and/or criticism of the president is based in racism. Got it.”

Nope. It’s the lip-bobbling that reveals the racism.

48

Theophylact 08.12.13 at 6:10 pm

Just a teeny reminder: Those “square” states aren’t in the middle of the country, they’re in the West. Unless you mean “mostly, sorta-ish square”, like Kansas and Nebraska and the Dakotas. In fact, Pennsylvania is rather more squarish than Missouri.

Any, ain’t none of ’em square. Gotta be equilateral for that.

49

otpup 08.12.13 at 6:23 pm

If I thought that hatred of Obama (of the tea-party variety) did not have a significant (probably overwhelming) proportion of racism (along with classic classic anti-socialism paranoia, conservative “if I pull myself up by my bootstraps, so can they” narcissism, etc), this might, just might, be a different discussion. I, for one, could not put forward with any confidence a story that attempted to tease the racism out of the anti-Obama sentiment.

Maybe the story here is precisely that Obama hatred is so robust because it is a publicly acceptable way of venting those racist feelings.

50

otpup 08.12.13 at 6:25 pm

PS, Belle, that is a wickedly snide title, kudos

51

Dr. Hilarius 08.12.13 at 6:35 pm

The Obama baiting doesn’t surprise me a bit. State/County Fairs thrive on the “we’re the hardworking, decent people vs. the decadent urban metrosexuals” theme. In the mid-70s I went to a state fair where the rodeo announcer introduced the riders as “real men” and went on to deride long-haired men as draft dodgers and queers. The crowd went wild, as I, with hair below my shoulders, caught the dirty looks from everyone around me. Worth every penny of the admission price. Now you’ll find lots of long-haired country boys (many of them big city pretenders) at the fair but the theme continues.

The 4H kids with their animals also creep me out. You have some sweet-looking 12 year-old girl with an immaculate show cow nuzzling her hand. She then remarks about how much the cow is going to bring at the slaughter house.

52

Shawn Miklaucic 08.12.13 at 6:45 pm

Agree with JW Mason at 44 on both counts. More Belle! Also, immediately thought of the Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned story “On the Show.”

53

Trader Joe 08.12.13 at 6:53 pm

@47
“I, for one, could not put forward with any confidence a story that attempted to tease the racism out of the anti-Obama sentiment.”

We’ll have an easier time of it in a couple of years while we try to tease the feminism out of the anti-Hilary sentiment.

54

Daniel 08.12.13 at 7:07 pm

@49

>>In the mid-70s I went to a state fair where the rodeo announcer introduced the riders as “real men” and went on to deride long-haired men as draft dodgers and queers.

This did not happen. I don’t believe you.

55

politicalfootball 08.12.13 at 7:11 pm

44, 50. Or, as Christopher Walken might say: Needs more Belle!

56

dsquared 08.12.13 at 7:14 pm

No, I believe the hardworking, humble saleswomen over the prima donna.

If that is your understanding of the world of luxury goods retail in Zurich, you should probably sit this one out.

57

Dr. Hilarius 08.12.13 at 7:15 pm

Daniel at 49: are you serious? It was the Puyallup State Fair in Washington. If you don’t believe this you’ve led a very sheltered life. Or are very young.

58

Rmj 08.12.13 at 7:24 pm

I’m sure there’s a dozen or more such things. Welcome to Texas.

The candy bars I heard about from Scotland, not Texas (lived here almost all my life, too, so…. Texas, I mean.)

There’s probably a deep connection between the Highland Lakes and the Highlands, come to think of it.

59

Vance Maverick 08.12.13 at 7:29 pm

TJ @51: was “feminism” a lexo for “misogyny”, or do you really predict that it’s feminists who will be unhappiest with HRC?

60

politicalfootball 08.12.13 at 7:31 pm

33: The Daily Mail headline: ‘Oprah’s a liar’ presented as a quote from the salesperson. Yet nobody appears to have actually said that, except the Daily Mail.

61

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.13 at 7:42 pm

“The president is african-american, therefore all parody and/or criticism of the president is based in racism. Got it.”

To add to my #21, you also get people who won’t even admit that parody that’s based on racist imagery is based on it, and leftists who deny that racism even exists as an important social category. So yes, you end up representing such a vanishingly rarely held point of view that you might as well just say that left opposition to Obama that acknowledges racism doesn’t exist outside of a few cranks. America, you suck.

I for one am hoping for another NSA thread, just so I can point out to Andrew F. that everything he dismissed as crankitude has actually been proven true since then — the head of the NSA was caught openly lying to Congress, the fact sheet that he put out that I dismissed as all lies has since been retracted since it was indeed proven to be all lies, and additional programs have come to light proving that e.g. the wiretapping of everyone is really being used to catch drug dealers and other ordinary criminals — branching out into calls from law enforcement to even use it for copyright evasion. If I have to be a crank, I might as get my laughs in.

62

Trader Joe 08.12.13 at 7:45 pm

@57
I was mostly trying to be clever with my ‘isms’ in the context, misogyny would be closer to the pin, but we’ll leave it HRC to create her own following of detractors.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if feminists were unhappy with her because inevitably she’ll cling to the center where much of the popular support for her sits and not venture into the often contradictory morass of feminist political agendas.

63

Daniel 08.12.13 at 7:46 pm

@54

>>No, I believe the hardworking, humble saleswomen over the prima donna.

If that is your understanding of the world of luxury goods retail in Zurich, you should probably sit this one out.

True the luxury shops of Zurich, London or New York is not a world that I am familiar with and so unless one is, say, a fabulously wealthy media star or a wealthy parasitical City or Wall Street trader one could not possibly appreciate how wickedly mercenary and racist these Zurich shop helpers can be.

64

Ragweed 08.12.13 at 8:01 pm

SamChevre 08.12.13 at 12:16 pm

MSM @ 5
“I have a feeling there were never any Reagan or GW Bush rodeo clowns in MO.”

Not a clown, exactly, but a dummy. (The dummies are used like a cape in bullfighting–to get the bull to run at them rather than the clown.)

Misses point. There have been parodies of presidents since there were presidents, and various different dummies, effigies, etc (well, maybe there was a stodgy post WWII era when people didn’t really do things like that – respect for the general and all – but I am dubious). The State Fair rodeo is probably not the best place to do it, but I am sure it isn’t the first time. The problem is the how – the big lips racial steriotyping.

Intense and sometimes personal animosity towards a president is par for the course – I remember Regan dart-boards and the like back in the day. The problem is when that animosity is used as license for racist and mysogynistic steriotypes. And that is what happened at the rodeo.

65

Daniel 08.12.13 at 8:07 pm

The Horror! The Horror!

66

Ragweed 08.12.13 at 8:12 pm

Daniel – You believe what was printed in the Daily Mail?

Let me verify that in Weekly World News.

67

Daniel 08.12.13 at 8:19 pm

68

Jim Harrison 08.12.13 at 8:22 pm

People are confused because they thought that not being racist meant not saying certain things that are improper, just as many of them think that being well bred means pretending to like classical music. You aren’t supposed to use language that implies of states that black people are innately inferior, violent, stupid, sexual, and scary; and you’re supposed to be OK with token black guys in government, sports, and entertainment. It’s not so surprising that were beginning to see a whole new cycle of acting out as a large part of the country begins to realize what a non-racist society would imply where being non racist is about what you mean, not what you say and even more about how you vote, govern, and do business.

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Ragweed 08.12.13 at 8:26 pm

You don’t have to wait for Hillary to get elected to talk about mysogyny- the venom directed at the Bill Clinton administration was laced with it. The bumper-sticker on my dads truck read “Impeach Clinton – and her Husband!” Old Bill just wasn’t man enough for the Presidency, see. And that doesn’t even get into the venom that was directed at Janet Reno!

In fact, I am not sure that the venom directed at Obama is much worse than that directed at the Clinton administration (from my own vantage point of having right-populist family that flirted with the militia movement). The mysogyny directed at Hillary and Janet Reno is pretty comperably vile to the racism directed at Obama.

70

Gene O'Grady 08.12.13 at 8:54 pm

I apologize for not having read all the comments.

But on the subject of GW Bush masks, I make a point of going to the Lane County Fair (Oregon, I believe Mr. Holbo’s home county), named after a rather prodigious racist of the 1850’s, and a special point of looking at the local Grange exhibits (almost joined the old Patrons of Husbandry at one point, but feared I might not fit i). I can report that in 2006 (give or take a year) one of their exhibits in the vote for the ugliest scarecrow competition (I’m not making this up) was a rather nasty caricature of Dubya. Don’t know if it won the contest.

We also almost always go to the Creswell Fourth of July parade and celebration — dinky little town with absurd local politics, but they had a US Senator there this year. About 2003 the local Republicans had a float in the parade featuring Bush, and I was rather startled to hear loud booing from behind me. When I looked around I was even more startled that the boos were coming from two guys in overalls. By this year I noticed that there were no Republican entries in the parade but there were local and national democrats.

I remember that in the early summer of 2009 I was up in Second Amendment country in Bridgeport and had a rather interesting visit with the owner of a local gunshop (they also had cold soda) and reflected that maybe some of the social divisiveness in the country was starting to fade. Boy was I wrong; but I’m curious as to what really happened — I suspect that it was a rather centrally driven well funded effort by wealthy people who betrayed their country.

By the way, I am under no illusions that the GW Bush scarecrow was as offensive as what happened in Missouri, but it was there. It’s also pretty clear that rodeo crowds are self-selected to exclude people who are offended by that sort of thing.

71

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.13 at 8:55 pm

“There have been parodies of presidents since there were presidents, and various different dummies, effigies, etc (well, maybe there was a stodgy post WWII era when people didn’t really do things like that – respect for the general and all – but I am dubious). “

If you look at the official apologies for the rodeo incident, they go very heavy on this aspect — that it was wrong because we’re not supposed to show disrespect for the President. It’s so that they won’t have to acknowledge that it was racist. This makes the apology into obvious nonsense, because every late-night comedian makes fun of every President, and no one minds.

A second-order, fallback apology is that it was wrong not because it was disrespectful to the President, but because it took a political position for one party and against another, and the fair wasn’t a context in which you’re supposed to do that. That one’s a better excuse for why some people were shocked without having to say the racism word — Southern politeness and all.

72

JimV 08.12.13 at 9:07 pm

Apart from the Rex Stout reference, this comment thread has been a waste of time. To which I now add. The banal evil ye will have with you always.

In other news, it has been hypothesized based on some convincing evidence that mankind is a cross-breed between chimpanzees and pigs (with several back-crosses). So it could be that the joke is on all of us.

73

novakant 08.12.13 at 9:19 pm

Allow me to prëempt a certain type of stupid First Amendmentry by noting that the Fair got $400,000 from the state to put this on.

Good heavens, so you’re saying that everything and everybody receiving money from the state should show appropriate deference to god, country and our dear leader? That’s what Jesse Helms and Giuliani stood for in the Piss Christ case (and yes, I’m aware that a rodeo clown is not an artist, but the logic is the same). I’m by no means a free speech absolutist, but this is scary.

Btw, Obama’s “war on terror” is racist as hell, but I guess that doesn’t really matter.

74

Marc 08.12.13 at 9:33 pm

The cluelessness about racism on display in this thread is depressing but not surprising. Folks, it’s OK to both oppose Obama and recognize obvious racism.

75

In the sky 08.12.13 at 9:34 pm

I’m pretty indifferent about the substantive issue here, but Belle your prose reminds me of Flann O’Brien. Keep it up.

76

Marc 08.12.13 at 9:40 pm

In case it isn’t obvious, there is a space between North Korean hero worship and nineteenth century blackface.

77

politicalfootball 08.12.13 at 9:41 pm

novakant, please note the stated purpose of that passage: “to prëempt a certain type of stupid First Amendmentry.”

Normally, one wouldn’t need to pre-emptively address stupid arguments, but I think Belle knows her audience.

78

Bloix 08.12.13 at 9:50 pm

“Missouri State Fair Gives Lifetime Ban To Rodeo Clown Who Mocked Obama”

“Fair officials say they’re also reviewing whether to take any action against the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, the contractor responsible for Saturday’s event.”

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/missouri-state-fair-bans-rodeo-clown-who-mocked-obama-for-life.php?ref=fpb

PS- Belle, not that you need any moral support from pseudonymous peons like me, but may I say nonetheless that it’s utterly delightful that you’ve had the time to post more often.

79

Ragweed 08.12.13 at 9:53 pm

Dr. Hillarious @ 57 – you mean the Western Washington Fair.

I mean, really – don’t mention the P-word on an open board like this. People are going to try to pronounce it, and their going to hurt themselves. It took me 3 months before I could get my east-coast tounge around it, and my partner worked their (the town, not the fair).

It’s just not a nice thing to do to people.

80

Rich Puchalsky 08.12.13 at 10:06 pm

“Folks, it’s OK to both oppose Obama and recognize obvious racism.”

It’s OK, but there are seemingly very few people who actually do it. The country is a third hardcore racists, a third Obots, maybe a quarter people who don’t care about politics at all despite it affecting everything they do, and of the people remaining a good number are ancient leftists who’ve spent their whole lives pointlessly denying that racism means anything, or mildly racist single issue people. Which leaves a few percent of the American public. If I want to read someone who both opposes Obama and recognizes obvious racism, I can read Cornel West, say. But there’s no electoral backing there, and it’s a position that no one has to particularly take account of.

81

rea 08.12.13 at 10:49 pm

For the guy who doesn’t think there would have been disparaging remarks over long hair at a state fair in the 70’s, let me just say that I was assaulted over my long hair in 1980, in an elevator at the MD Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, TX. When did you think this sort of thing stoppped?

And more generally, there is a history of racist actions against blacks in this country, which means that portraying a black man being beaten or lynched carries racial implications that are not present if a white man is similarly portrayed.

82

Dr. Hilarius 08.12.13 at 11:10 pm

Ragweed, my apologies. Probably I should refrain from any mention of Steilacoom, Skamokawa, or Wahkiakum. And the less said about the town of Humptulips, the better.

83

Ragweed 08.12.13 at 11:56 pm

@81 – well, in the late ’90s I was told “Hey pony-tail boy. I’ve got one piece of advice for you – the ’80s are over.”

Dr. H – and we best leave Sequim out of it as well.

84

novakant 08.13.13 at 12:22 am

From the article linked in the OP:

Obviously this is a horrible show of respect for the President of the United States at a public event at the state fair— which got more than $400,000 from Missouri state taxpayers this year.

It’s also borderline illegal; the U.S. Secret Service takes threats against the president seriously. While the president himself was in no danger here, it’s the kind of stupid activity that could give nuts ideas about harming the president.

(…)

But when you make fun of the president at a taxpayer-backed event that’s supposed to be appropriate for people of all ages, you’ve crossed the line.

This is scary stuff: Lèse-majesté invoked in the land of the free.

85

Yan 08.13.13 at 12:23 am

Re: Theophylact at 6:10’s comment.

This confused me too. The states in the middle are Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, which are more trapezoid than square. Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma are also pretty central, but two rectangles and a frying pan, not squares.

Wyoming and Colorado are probably the closest, but they’re westside, not middle, and they’re not paradigmatic fried butter sorts of places. (I’d have thought the southern states were the butter-friers, which are middle neither lattitudinally nor longitudinally. I hear the UK is fry-anything, especially candy bars, country.)

Also, why “nameless”?

86

Ragweed 08.13.13 at 12:28 am

And more generally, there is a history of racist actions against blacks in this country, which means that portraying a black man being beaten or lynched carries racial implications that are not present if a white man is similarly portrayed.

This.

Same with depicting violence against female leaders – it means something very, very different.

87

Rich Puchalsky 08.13.13 at 12:34 am

“This is scary stuff: Lèse-majesté invoked in the land of the free.”

Yeah, I saw that part too — the incident invoked as possible threat to the President, as if the guy was modeling a plot to have him trampled by a bull or something. But as I wrote above, that’s pretty much unavoidable if lots of people had a horrible feeling that they were seeing something wrong when this happened, but no one can admit that they felt bad because it was racist. They have to desperately look for some other reason why it was bad, and it’s easy to settle on that it wasn’t respectful enough in an authoritarian sense. They can even write something about how it made Missouri look bad not because Missouri is full of old-style racists, but because Missouri wasn’t respecting the President.

88

politicalfootball 08.13.13 at 12:38 am

Someday I’m going two write a book about all of the simple-but-vital ideas that everyone should understand before they leave high school. On that list is an explanation of what the joke is supposed to be when Stephen Colbert says, “I don’t even see race.”

89

pedant 08.13.13 at 1:17 am

Rich at 87–

I think that’s exactly the right analysis of why people are now over-reacting.

I think the talk about ‘not making fun of the president’, and the fact that this poor clown has been banned for life, are all forms of over-reacting.

But the root cause of the over-reaction is the inability to say what really happened, and why it was so deeply offensive, sc. the crude racism, in a large public setting, re-enacting the kind of tribal violence against blacks that the US has seen far too often, and far too recently.

So I think you are spot-on, and also think this is why I am less troubled by what troubles novakant. It’s not really an invocation of lese-majeste, just a confused over-reaction to what they cannot name outright.

(As for the clown–I both feel bad for his disproportionate punishment, and also worry that his career will flourish after this, as he is made a martyr and feted by the racists who line up to hire him.)

90

Barry 08.13.13 at 1:26 am

Rich: “and of the people remaining a good number are ancient leftists who’ve spent their whole lives pointlessly denying that racism means anything, “

Could you please explain what this means?

Thanks

91

JanieM 08.13.13 at 2:02 am

I both feel bad for his disproportionate punishment

I don’t.

Following on Belle @22 and js. @36, I am bowled over by how far over the line the broom goes. Talk about things that can’t be named: despite running the same picture all day that was shown in Belle’s link, nbcnews.com didn’t refer to the broom at all in its article. Great family entertainment they like out there in the alleged God-and-family-loving alleged heartland.

92

Belle Waring 08.13.13 at 2:49 am

This is never going to work unless y’all make me want to kill people less than the stupid io9 fuckers do. Keep that in mind! Second verse, same as the first:

1) if the government of Missouri had not given any money to the Missouri State Fair, but it had rather been financed by local businesses and charity organizations, we’d be hearing a lot about how it’s their own right to make fun of the president at their own rodeo, which, btw, isn’t racist (and here is where John is right. The national news stage is where everyone gets caught up in the ‘I’m not racist, I just happen to hate black people nope not a bit racist and HOW DARE YOU SIRRAH!’ dialogue.)
2) Implying that I don’t like the 4H program because agricultural fairs aren’t ‘hip and edgy’ is one of the 6th stupidest things I’ve read today. Wait, no, 7th stupidest. No, 4th.
3) “OMG Oprah was lying/misunderstood the poor, innocent, working-class woman who labours for her daily bread at the Trois Pommes Boutique in Zurich, and is probably going to have to retire early on disability because of the repetitive stress in–“OK, bored. My crazy theory is that an African-American woman, who grew up poor, was able to accurately discern whether she was being treated differently and with less respect because she was black. You know what this is like? The Skeptichick/Elevatorgate thing. Blogger Skeptichick mentioned that, after a talk in which she explained why women often felt unwelcome in the Atheist/Skeptical movement, a man who had attended the talk waited till they were alone in the hotel elevator, and then invited her to his room, at 3 a.m. Without naming any names, she just said, someone has reaaaallly missed the point. The sexist blowup/asshole nuclear winter that followed that has never been gotten over.
This is just like that, where leftist guys turn out to be just as sexist as their right-wing counterparts (and apparently as racist too–you’re finally getting intersectionality! Go get’em tigers!) Oprah didn’t try to get the woman fired right then. She didn’t say the store’s name on TV in the initial interview–she was being asked, in an interview, what was the most recent event in your life where you’ve experienced racial prejudice? She acknowledged that at her level of wealth and fame it didn’t happen often anymore, but she still got it when she was the only black person and the only woman in a board meeting, and probably for 100 miles around, and she could tell those men didn’t feel she belonged there at the table. Then she related the handbag incident. She also explained in the interview that although she didn’t have false eyelashes on (+10 Belle), she was otherwise [gesturing to her face] “in full Oprah.”
4) “Every criticism of Obama is racist, then? vs. I suppose we’re all supposed to worship our Dear Leader Obama and not pay any attention to the racist impact of his military policy?” Crooked Timber isn’t usually a match-making site, but could you two go hate-fuck and leave the rest of us alone? I feel like the level of stupid is really good there, really nicely-matched. Or, disingenuous stupidity, of course, but you can use flattering light.

93

Western Dave 08.13.13 at 3:30 am

1) You seem to have picked up an unusually stupid batch of trolls of late. My sympathies. You could call the disemvowelers.
2) How could you not talk about butter queens in a post about state fairs?
3) The Navajo Nation Eastern Agency Fair is all kinds of awesome.
4) Best part of a rodeo is the kids riding sheep.

94

Lee A. Arnold 08.13.13 at 3:39 am

When I saw the title of the post I first thought “Rodeo DRIVE Classism”, well-known ’round these here parts, where signs say “By Appointment Only” to see handbags ripped off the bodies of reptiles, usually while the animals are still alive.

95

Anarcissie 08.13.13 at 3:45 am

Maybe this has been mentioned above, but if not: a lot of the boss media seem to be washing the racial gesture(s) out of the story, so that it becomes huffing about the lèse majesté of it all and defensive comparisons with the derision accorded Bush multiply endlessly.

96

godoggo 08.13.13 at 3:47 am

not to be confused with Rodeo Rd

97

js. 08.13.13 at 4:06 am

Barry @90:

I imagine Rich means the kind of people who keep saying, “It’s not racism, it’s classicism!” no matter what’s happening around them. No proper leftist (I just mean, not a left-liberal type) I have met in the flesh says dumb shit like that, but they’re all over comment threads, so they must be out there. (Tho RP can of course correct me if I’m wrong.)

JanieM @91:

That is crazy to me that they did not mention the broom. Like, hey, no! what do you mean there’s something sticking out of the clown’s ass!? I don’t see it at all!

Also, thanks for the fried butter link up above. I do think they missed something by using a honey glaze rather than a butter glaze to top it all off. I mean, just go for the trifecta, no?

98

Lee A. Arnold 08.13.13 at 4:15 am

Classism is not classicism, at least not usually.

99

js. 08.13.13 at 4:23 am

Oh, that’s horrible! In my defense, ‘classism’ is an awful neologism, and my mind turned it into a word that made sense. Ok, yeah, I’m grasping. Bye now.

100

Meredith 08.13.13 at 4:47 am

I can’t believe some of the comments here. Oh well. I’ll just say that I’ve never been to a state fair, but (like a few who have commented) I have been to some wonderful county fairs, like the Fariabult County Fair in pretty rectangular Minnesota, where I eyed the lambs — they’d be so good to eat, I thought, in this part of the country where farmers raised lamb that seldom found its way into 1960-‘s, 1970’s local markets since the locals were not lamb-eaters (that may well have changed). More recently, county fairs in rectangular (less that Cape Cod business) Massachusetts, where the emphasis tends to be more on foodstuffs and the honky tonk attractions than on agriculture and husbandry.
In praise of 4H: yes, children raise animals they grow to love. And learn to take those animals to slaughter. I find this very sad and very healthy.
In praise of honky tonk, which I know best from NYC and from growing up with part of many summers at the Jersey shore (one of the few times you rightly can say “Jersey” rather than “New Jersey” is when “Jersey” is modifying “shore”; another is when you say “Jersey girl,” and yes, I am one). And in praise of the mingling of the honky tonk folks, farmers, middle class yahoos. Why we white middle class parents take our children to these fairs: to learn something about the luscious largeness of life. (Which makes me wonder: how does attendance at these fairs break down along lines of race and ethnicity?)
State and county fairs and fat. Think Mardi Gras. Through most of human history, people have suffered from lack of calories, of which animal fat is a terrific source. (Many many many people in the world still do so suffer.) Seems crazy now to us who are overfed, especially the competition at these fairs to come up with the mostly absurdly fat thing possible. (A motif in Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.) It is indeed crazy, and driven by the corporatism of these fairs, but driven also by a perceived (maybe not entirely inaccurately) slight: farmers need lots of calories, and for everybody, farmer or not, food is good. Fried butter stands have more in common with trendy Brooklyn restaurants than we may think. The democratic trick is for everyone to grope their way to that understanding, an understanding not necessarily consciously or overtly mutual but real, nonetheless. State (and county) fairs go a way toward enabling this trick.

So these fairs are a democratic fest, yes they are. Which is why presidents may get mocked at them (let us hope so!). But there’s also history. A white president does not bear the burden of whites in black-face having reduced his ancestors and him to the status of an animal to be ridden at the rodeo or raised lovingly for slaughter.

101

merian 08.13.13 at 6:47 am

Belle @92 – I was automatically looking for a Like button. As for what 4-H do up here in Alaska — a lot of cool things indeed (https://sphotos-b-pao.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/264334_10151165016644844_505534762_n.jpg) . Bear might be something they encounter as occasional subsistence food, but it’s not an agricultural item.

102

Emma in Sydney 08.13.13 at 11:36 am

Meredith @ 100, what a great comment. In Australia we have ‘agricultural shows’, not ‘county fairs’, but it’s the same kind of thing. Animals and handcrafts, and giant pumpkins and cake decorating, and photography competitions, and shearing competitions, and at the country show we go to every year, a home brewing tent where the locals show off their best beer and you put what you think is a fair price in the tin. Learning about ‘the luscious largeness of life’ is exactly why I take my city-bred children to the show.

103

Barry 08.13.13 at 11:52 am

js. 08.13.13 at 4:06 am
“Barry @90:

I imagine Rich means the kind of people who keep saying, “It’s not racism, it’s classicism!” no matter what’s happening around them. No proper leftist (I just mean, not a left-liberal type) I have met in the flesh says dumb shit like that, but they’re all over comment threads, so they must be out there. (Tho RP can of course correct me if I’m wrong.)”

That’s what I sorta thought. This is usually a right-wing theme, but Rich has gone so far left that he’s gone around the bend.

104

Collin Street 08.13.13 at 2:43 pm

No proper leftist (I just mean, not a left-liberal type) I have met in the flesh says dumb shit like that, but they’re all over comment threads, so they must be out there.

You don’t know them because they aren’t your friends and because your company’s HR will take fairly extreme efforts to avoid hiring them, if your company’s HR is up to snuff. You might be related to them, or possibly have gone to school with them, but otherwise your circles and theirs largely won’t cross. The fuck-witted, like the poor, are a marginalised and forgotten people, and through largely the same mechanisms.

105

Ragweed 08.13.13 at 2:49 pm

Barry @90:

There is also an old Marxist interpretation which argues that racism is a by-product of class difference, as a divide and conquer method to keep the working man down. And there is definitely some truth to that story, but it has been used on the left to treat racism as subordinate to the class struggle and “racism will melt away after the revolution” or some such. Which, in slightly different language, seems to be alive and well.

At the very least, the notion that racism is nothing more than an instrumental technique that a small elite uses to keep poor white folks down is problematic. It ignores the cultural aspects of racism, it assumes that poor white folks matter more than poor Black folks, and it denies how People of Color actually experience racism. Which isn’t to say that an elite may not marshal racism in order to maintain power, but its not the whole story.

106

nickelas 08.13.13 at 3:55 pm

Yeah, the 4H stuff was dumb, but what about the joke about the guy who works the carnival ride who’s probably a serial killer ‘cause he has the hair that the poor people have? The totally gratuitous (not to mention done to death) shot at people who work at carnival rides in a post about a rodeo clown? In the post that was, in part, an attempt to *downplay* the classism that was discussed in a previous post? Now that’s Rodeo Classism.

But you were just making a joke, right? Why would anyone get upset over a little joke? Someone getting upset about it must be writing the 6th or 7th or 4th or 3rd (let us know when you meet a joke you can’t overwrite) stupidest thing you’ve read today. Belle Waring, Crooked Timber’s own Daniel Tosh.

And I’m sure, growing up in the south, you’ve got plenty of stories to prove your blue collar bona fides. Some of your best friends, etc. etc. It’s all very impressive. It’s sooo stooopid to call you out on that, I’m sure. What would this blog be, what would life be without your Chuckle Hut middle act komedy bit from 1996? The one wherein you say someone’s prolly a murderer who washes his workplace in the blood of his victims ‘cause he doesn’t have the right facial hair.

Or maybe this is the one time in all of human history that a feminist who grew up in the first world failed to adhere to the standards of intersectionality that she gleefully and sooper-dooper-snarkfully imposes on others.

(P.S. For the record, I believe the guy in the Obama mask is obviouly a racist asshole, and deserves whatever punishment he gets, same with the woman who thought Oprah could never be that rich because she’s black. I also that believe racism exists in many forms all over the world, and that while some forms of racism are created by class oppression, many override class difference. I believe that this is all true and obvious and horrible and needs to change. I don’t point this out to “mansplain.” I point this out so that my beliefs aren’t mischaracterized. Some of us, in our zeal to point out the privilege of others, simply go too far and forget our own. If I’ve done so myself in this post, let me know, and I will apologize and do my best to change for the better.)

107

NickS 08.13.13 at 5:28 pm

This is only barely relevant, but the conversation at the beginning of the thread about public figures being ridiculed at state fairs reminded me of this anecdote by Mo Udall from Too Funny To Be President (which, has one of the best chapter titles I’ve seen in a political memoir — “Get Cancer, You Parasite”: Letters from Home)

Throughout this entire period, my popularity in Alaska was plummeting ever lower, as this anecdote illustrates: Each summer, service organizations sponsor booths, featuring games of chance, at the Fairbanks County Fair. In 1979, at the height of Jimmy Carter’s unpopularity due to the gasoline shortage and the hostage crisis in Iran, the Jaycees came up with a foolproof scheme for raising money. They constructed a backdrop with three faces emblazoned on it: Ayatollah Khomeini, Carter, and Morris Udall. For a dollar, you got three chances to throw a long-necked beer bottle into a hole below one of the three faces. By the time the fair ended, the heap of broken shards beneath my face, much higher than that below the Ayatollah or J.C., irrefutably demonstrated that I was the chief villain in Alaska that summer. The fact that this was the first time I had bested Carter in any political contest (to say nothing of the Ayatollah) was small consolation.

108

Doug K 08.13.13 at 6:42 pm

merian @ 101, that is a wonderful picture. I had no idea the caribou were domesticated.. though of course they are mostly reindeer..

I remember my first county fair, in North Carolina at age 30, wandering around dragging my jaw behind me.. even though I’d grown up with the Rand Easter Show, which I see continues the proud tradition of amazing feats,
http://3d-car-shows.com/the-rand-show-2012-press-conference-and-highlights/
“The Rand Show is pleased to welcome back a major attraction in its line-up of top-class entertainment: the SA National Defence Force.
Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, spokesperson for the SANDF, said they were delighted at the opportunity to once again showcase and share the SANDF’s technology and readiness with all South Africans.”

109

Bruce Baugh 08.13.13 at 7:37 pm

Barry: Will Shetterly is notorious in some circles for the thing Rich describes. He ended up banned from a bunch of forums and blogs about marginalization and prejudice in science fiction and fantasy for endlessly derailing arguments about how anything that might look like racism was actually classism and any claim to the contrary was toadying denial. He went on to spend months and months making sock puppets to get around bans. He still shows up with the same arguments, wherever he’s not banned any topic of the sort comes up.

That’s just the first name that comes to hand. If you spend much time talking about social justice in action on a site hosted by a woman, or a person of color of any gender identity, you’ll find this persistent swarm of white guys (and a few white gals) who really, deeply, truly don’t want to hear about racism (or homophobia, or anything) being as significant as classism in driving social tension. And there’s a significant population of them prepared to do whatever they can to shut down any discourse to the contrary, up to and including sustained harassment and vilification of designated targets.

It’s common enough that social-justice bloggers who don’t let class trump everything else warn newcomers to the scene to expect this flavor of creep, with regrettably solid justification.

110

novakant 08.13.13 at 7:44 pm

#92

I don’t know why I’m answering since you seem to be unable to maintain basic civility, but for the record I made two points:

What does state funding have to do with all this? Are state funded institutions, academics and artists to be held to a higher standard than others, what is that standard and who is supposed to define it?

A bunch of racist hicks in Kansas are certainly far less threatening than a racist foreign and economic policy that results in brown people being blown up by drones, being deprived of medicine and other basic things by sanctions and exploited as cheap labour to make shiny things for us. Liberals seem generally willing to point out the former wrong, but are apathetic about or even supportive of the latter.

111

Michael Sullivan 08.13.13 at 8:09 pm

Funny, I was just browsing the anti-racism dictionary the other day and I could swear I saw a quote of Daniel’s 35 in there under “derailment”.

WTF does that have to do with anything exactly, Daniel?

Or are you trying to casually imply that because some black person somewhere may have incorrectly attributed a racial/prejudiced motivation to someone one time, that this somehow disqualifies any possible allegations of the same, hereafter and forever?

Or was it just this cool thing you happened to see, and thought , “Wow, this here crooked timber thread is as good a place as any to broadcast my new anecdatum of how black people and their accusations of racism are just full of it”?

112

PatrickfromIowa 08.14.13 at 3:11 am

In 2015 our state fair will have this: http://www.iowastatefair.org/fair-attractions/food/on-a-stick/, and an equally tasty and healthful range of yahoos running for president. If we’re lucky, Steve King (now there’s some scary racism!) will orate and Lynyrd Skynyrd will rock the bandstand.

Y’all come by. Belle, you and/or yours might want to bring smokables, but for God’s sake be careful.

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Gene O'Grady 08.14.13 at 5:16 am

Glancing over this thread reminds me of the most unbelievably offensive thing I have ever seen at a county fair (or anywhere, for that matter) (Santa Clara County, now Silicon Valley, with my brother in 1970) — they had an actual freak show featuring deformed live people and a few malformed ones in formaldehyde. Sort of like I remember Mr. Venus’ shop in Our Mutual Friend, and I think there’s a Todd Browning movie?

Anyhow, we went in figuring it would be cultural education and walked out sick to our stomachs. It was banned the next year.

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PatrickinIowa 08.14.13 at 8:32 pm

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Belle Waring 08.15.13 at 1:33 pm

nikelas @106: “Yeah, the 4H stuff was dumb, but what about the joke about the guy who works the carnival ride who’s probably a serial killer ‘cause he has the hair that the poor people have?”

Absolutely typical classism of the type I have found so prevalent here lately–notice how I did not describe their facial hair choices in any way in detail other than to say they may have been sub-optimal choices, but you automatically filled in the mental blanks with “facial hair that poor people have.” That’s what we call a Freudian slip, friend.

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nickelas 08.15.13 at 2:14 pm

I apologize for laying bare what you were too disingenuous to say yourself.

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nickelas 08.15.13 at 2:50 pm

I will say this in the interests of ending what I will admit threatens to become a derail (though I don’t think it started solely with me) on an already distressing thread: I agree with you completely as far as the racism of the incident, and I will absolutely admit to being privileged and blind to my own prejudices from time to time.

For example, when I said you might refer to your upbringing in the South to prove blue collar bon fides? I mean, you have a colorful way of frequently writing about personal history, but South=blue collar? What’s that about? Totally messed up. I had no right to insinuate that, and it’s just plain wrong and blind and prejudiced of me. I apologize because that was offensive.

The hair thing, though? I pointed out the moldiness and hackneyed nature of the whole “carnival worker is shady” script (in regards to which the whole facial hair choices thing isn’t some kind of innovation) precisely because I’ve heard it so many times before, and I know what people have implied by stories like that in the past. If that really isn’t what you meant by introducing this character for no reason into this story, then I apologize.

In fact, never mind. I apologize full stop. I cynically misunderstood what you wrote. You are right about Americans being unable to talk about race and about people having difficulty owning up to prejudices.

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PatrickinIowa 08.15.13 at 5:16 pm

(((((Belle Waring))))). I hope that’s appropriate internet protocol.

I, for one, would miss the hell out of your contributions if you stopped, but I don’t have to take the shit you do. I’m not the only one who feels that way, I’m sure.

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JanieM 08.15.13 at 5:39 pm

Ditto what PatrickinIowa said @120 / 5:16 pm.

At times like this I wish I could get it together to comment more frequently. When I get the urge to comment, it tends to be when either

1) I’m riled up, and that usually doesn’t end well, so I try to avoid it; or

2) there’s so much I’d like to say that I can’t (or don’t have time to) condense it into a blog comment.

Plus, there’s a self-imposed intimidation factor in that a lot of the OPs here are in fields where I have no training and almost no experience outside CT itself. So I read to learn, but don’t have a lot to contribute.

But I also agree that the comment threads are getting more frustrating. There’s quite a list now of commenters whom I just ignore. But that’s not very satisfying either, since a lot of threads tend to fall into a rabbit hole of back-and-forth with those very same commenters.

I don’t know what the answer is. But I do hope, Belle, that you don’t stop posting.

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js. 08.15.13 at 5:57 pm

Agree with PatrickfromIowa as well. I would hate to see you stop posting, though I can understand why you might want to.

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godoggo 08.15.13 at 7:30 pm

fwiw I read that this guy was a carnival worker at one time.

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Mao Cheng Ji 08.15.13 at 7:56 pm

Cool. Reminds me of some Chekhov’s drama.

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godoggo 08.15.13 at 8:20 pm

… child of carnival workers, actually, but in an interview he said, “me and my brother would get dragged along to these things all the time and have to work.”

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Katherine 08.15.13 at 10:58 pm

I’ve got to be honest – I’ve been ducking out of a lot of threads on sexism and racism recently because it’s such bloody hard work not to get depressed about the utter cluelessness of otherwise intelligent people. I’ll usually settle for a drive-by comment in the hope that maybe someone will be listening.

I can’t even imagine how much harder it must be when you’re actually posting about this crap. So in the interests only of making it known and offering support – this post, and your others on the same subject – have rocked.

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Belle Waring 08.16.13 at 4:25 am

Thanks for the support everyone! And no one should feel intimidated about commenting here. Most of the posters are academics, but few of the posts are actually on the subject of expertise the poster studies/teaches, and even fewer than the comments. Women, especially, shouldn’t let themselves feel intimidated or talk themselves out of commenting because they feel they don’t know enough. After all, it doesn’t stop anyone else!

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