Blackface Beyond the Pale


Over at Ragged Thots, occasional Reason contributor Robert A. George lays into blogger Steve Gilliard who posted a fucked-up, Photoshopped blackface shot of Maryland Lt. Gov Michael Steele. Steele, who is African American, recently announced his candidacy for a US Senate seat. Gilliard, who is also African American, declaims Steele as a "Sambo" because the pol refused to condemn Gov. Robert Ehrlich's appearance as a golf club that up to that point never accepted a black member.

George's first post on the matter is here. A snippet:

Yes, I know that Steve Gilliard is black (this isn't the first time that we have sparred over racial language; this post has links to some of our previous exchanges). That doesn't change the fact that, in my view, he was happily trading in racist imagery as an attack against Michael Steele. Rather than try to even consider Steele on issues, it is far easier to mock and denounce his very existence as a black man who chooses to be Republican.

And here's an update from George:

1) The real-life political world is very different from the blogosphere; 2) the across-the-line offensiveness of Steve's words and imagery were objectively apparent—and politically self-destructive. Explaining to most people that they were created by a black person criticizing another black person just doesn't cut it. Certain things are, ahem, "beyond the pale".

More here.

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  1. I spent a good deal of time yesterday looking through the comments thread of Gilliard’s original post. Between the die-hard readers of that blog pissed off at the invasion of “shocked” interlopers, as well as obviously right-wingers pretending to be offended liberals who would never read that blog again, it was quite entertaining.

    That guy Gilliard sure does come across as quite a prick. Kinda of like my neighbor Democracy Guy. I don’t often stray to smaller blogs, but they sure do seem to be run by rabid loonies.

  2. I dunno. I find the entire concept of white people accusing black people of racial insensitivity to other black people to be, well, amusing.

    I don’t even bother to find out if they’re right (simply put: I’m not black, so it’s got bugger-all to do with me). I just sit back and eat the popcorn.

    What? Politics is cheap entertainment.

  3. Every sensible white guy avoids uncle tomfoolery…

    …Of course we’re talkin’ about the blogosphere, which throws the whole sensible thing out the window… …Being outrageous gets you noticed, and getting noticed gets you hits, and hits get you noticed and that’s what it’s all about, right?

  4. Everyone is ignoring the REAL question: Where all the white women at?

  5. Morat,
    People of nefarious goals count on others reticence to comment because they are not of the same race. Thus, lefty blacks try to shout down those who don’t agree with them by declaring them Uncle Toms or Sambos.
    Imagine if Thomas Sowell decided to dispatch someone he disagreed with by labeling them a simple nigger. One black man criticizing another, no?
    Guilliard had an issue with the Lt. Gov, so instead of just pointing it out and arguing why he didn’t like it; he used racia epitath.

  6. Steve Gilliard?

    He thinks he’s intelligent… but he’s so goddamn dumb that he hasn’t figured out how to take the fucking fork out of his mouth.

    Gilliard and O-Chubb… 800+ lbs of ignorance just one click away.

  7. Well, there goes MY halloween costume…

  8. But I can still make Scottish jokes, right?

  9. Actually the pale of beyond-the-pale is a fence, from single-L Latin palus, stick; the double-L root pallere (to be pale) being preserved in English in pallor.

  10. Dr. King is turning over in his grave hearing Gilliard judge by skin color not content of character.

    Who cares if Gilliard is black, it is his character which stinks.

  11. And “beyond the pale” was a racist comment referring to the “uncivilized” Irish who were on the other side of the wall.

  12. Beyond the pale is not a racist comment. It is a geographical comment. The pale was the area in the environs of Dublin.

    You don’t change your race by moving. If you moved into the Pale, you accepted English law that held sway there, but you didn’t change your race.

  13. So, I gather blackface caricatures are still politically incorrect. Perhaps we should start a campaign to get the blackface off the list?

  14. Generally speaking, it is considered acceptable for members of a race or culture to make fun of that same race or culture using language or imagery that is otherwise offensive.

    That’s pretty much how South Park can make fun of Jews & gays, as the creators of that show are gay and Jewish.

    However, part of the reason they can get away with it, is because they are being funny, and don’t mean the use seriously.

    In something like this, the guy is using the same exact words and the same exact meaning as a racist would.

  15. My favorite part was from

    “I guess they have a problem with black people expressing themselves in print,” Gilliard said. “At no point did they bother to ask me what I thought or why I did it.”

    Read that again. Let it sink in. What’s better than that?

  16. Hey, Gilliard removed the blackface photo, apparently because the Washington Post objected to his use of their photo. (But wouldn’t this be protected as a parody?)

    Anyway, Gilliard says:

    The Washington Post doesn’t like the photo
    either. So wer changed it. It is now not
    a WaPo Photo

    Judging by the stupid typo, this must have been done in some haste. The new photo is a PhotoShop job of Steele with some dollar bills in the background. It also shows some signs of haste.

    Caption: “I’s Simple Sambo and I’s running
    for the Big House” — Is that the same as the old caption?

  17. “Gilliard and O-Chubb… 800+ lbs of ignorance just one click away.”

    Good one. I gave ODuhhhhb a flier at a Bostonn blog meeting but he kept on walking. His excuse: he thought I was my “advance man”.

    Dems also threw Orios at Steal when he was running for lt. gov. Search for it.

    (I see that Wizbangblog removed the nofollow tags they had on their site for a while. But, I’m sure Tim Cavanaugh knows more about this web thing than they do.)

  18. If some white guy were to bag on a white Democrat for being a “race-traitor” or (pardon the expression) “nigger-lover”, would anyone have difficulty seeing the racist angle?

  19. If it were clearly the case that the golf club was an egregious output of bigotry, I’m not so sure I would have a problem with anything but the golf club, the Governor’s appearance there, and the Lt. Governor’s failure to speak up.

    I.e. a black columnist could call the governor “cracker” or “ofay” or whatever, and the lt gov, an “Uncle Tom” or whatever. Not sure I would really have an issue with it.

  20. I hate people. Spread the hate.

  21. Hate is politically incorrect these days. ANY kind of hate. EVERYthing is all about LOVE,…unconditional love, that is. One must not “judge”.

  22. nofollow breaks blogs-

    I find your bizarre obsession with this “no follow” crap to be almost disturbing. You truly are a lone wacko.

  23. I thought little black Sambo was Burmese.

  24. Good point. If the original “black” Sambo was actually a dark-skinned person from around the Indian subcontinent or thereabouts, it would explain the part of the story with the tigers, who end up chasing each other around a tree until they turn themselves into butter. There aren’t any tigers in Africa, and never have been.

  25. Ummm…Jeremy?

    Neither Matt or Trey are gay.

  26. Lil’ Black Sambo was one the stories my grandma use to read to me(in a black accent/voice no less, very PC). She still has the book which is kinda hard to find these days.

    When I was a kid there was a restaurant chain called Sambo’s. I believe they had little cartoon black kid on their sign. Was this just a N. California thing, or did they have these in other parts of the state/contry?

  27. They also had Sambos’seses … restaurants called Sambo’s … in St. Louis.

    I don’t remember the mascot, though. Just the name.


  28. My mother was the manager of a Sambo’s when I was very little. They were nationwide. It was definitely more Asian Indian jungle themed, like the Jungle Book. On my shelf I have an ancient stuffed little tiger from Sambo’s. Revisionist history equates it to a “Coon Chicken” type thing, but, it was more equating the name to “little black Sambo”. Sambo at my Mom’s location in Seattle (Northgate Mall to be exact) was dark brown and wore a turban.

  29. Oh, and, it’s extremely tangental, but it’s true, neither of the South Park guys are gay. Mr. Garrison is a gay character, and he’s the one who says it’s ok to say “fag” because he’s gay.

  30. Sambo’s from Wikipedia

    I remember one in Portland when I was growoing up but the “dark-skinned” boy had been removed from any imagery by then and only the tiger remained. The article says that only the original restaurant in Santa Barbara is still open. However, there is a tiger-themed Lil’ Sambo’s on the coast in Lincoln City, Ore.

  31. Nice. For the past several days I had the Backstreet Boys’ “Wanted It That Way” stuck in my head. Now it’s “White people — Eh’y eh’y eh’y-eh’y! Black people — Doot doot doot doo!” Thanks.

  32. A “pale” is a restricted area, most notably the Pale of Settlement (for Jews in Eastern Europe) or the English Pale (in Dublin). From “palus” (“stake” or “stick”) it is etymologically unconnected with “pale” as an adjective but is related to “palisade” (a fence), “impale”, “pole”, and even “Palo Alto”.

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