Admitting the tribalism of politics, but occasionally chucking spears anyway
Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative has a piece up on two leftist intellectuals’ reception of the film “Copperhead,” a Civil War flick – so far getting piss-poor reviews – that tackles the period’s anti-war movement in the North. “Copperheads” was the term for anti-war “Peace Democrats” residing mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York state. Their film isn’t being widely distributed, awkward as it is to inspire sympathy for objectors to a war perceived to have been waged for an incredibly noble purpose. I suspect a film with a sympathetic take on pacifists during World War 2 would be met with a similar collective yawn.
Paul Buhle, co-editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left (he knows of what he types), and Dave Wagner give their POV:
Copperhead is the rare movie (maybe even the only one) that portrays a Peace Democrat as a sympathetic character even though he refused to choose between two of the vilest institutions of human invention, war and slavery. The politics of the narrative reveal how the life of a particular time and place has come under attack by alien ideologies - Yankee-style state capitalism, Southern slavocracy, and sympathizers of John Brown.
Another film set in the 1860s was released earlier this year and deals with that theme, namely Tim Burton’s mysterious and never dull Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Burton’s is the more conventional of the two films, at least when it comes to the familiarity of history and politics.
“Copperhead” is being met with roughly the same love lavished upon another film financed on the periphery of the industry by those on the right: “Atlas Shrugged.” Like the Civil War film, it was lambasted for its lousy budget, slow pace, and preachy tone.
In the relentlessly race-obsessed media – to which I contribute, yes – it’s routine to hear about how blacks and whites differ in their perception and reception of the day’s news. It’s not so often you hear about where they’re more or less on the same page (because if it disagrees, it leads). But two themes that would appear to motivate many a conservative white guy to find common cause with black men – and to inspire a degree of outrage at “the man” – are those involving firearms and canines.
Republicans are dog people; Democrats are cat people. No, not cat people like those Stephen King dreamed/nightmared up – though he is a Democrat, so maybe he’s privy to something others aren’t – but rather apartment-dwelling, big city cat owners. Those partial to the GOP own dogs, what with their relatively wide open suburban and rural abodes. So when conservatives heard about what happened recently to African-American dog owner Leon Rosby’s pooch, put down by a flail of bullets fired by SoCal cops, they were outraged.
From the UK’s Daily Mail, a publication notorious among the left for its know-nothing-ism:
I’m sorry but I have to say a big **** YOU to the police!!! This dogs literally dies trying to protect their owners.
This is sickening to see with any dog. Rottweilers have a special place in my heart.
They are a part of the family, shame on you Mr policeman and how would you feel if you had one of your family taken away from you.
This just makes someone cry no animal no matter how aggressive or how sweet deserves to die this way .
At Glenn Becks’ Blaze, the sentiment was similar (if a little less gushy), though there did appear more sympathy for the cops relative to DM readers:
If you can’t be around a freaked out dog without shooting it then you shouldn’t be a cop.
You see them all the time using tazers on humans, why not dogs too?
A lot of people DO consider their dogs as much family as their kids, so kill my dog, I may feel the same way as if you killed my kid.
The police aggravated the situation by playing the fake toughs with a gun and badge.
And of course at Politix, where site users tilt right, 75% of our readers agreed that the police should have acted differently.
A few years back, when I was more gung-ho about my libertarianism and less the tepid, part-time advocate for it, I recall reading about the case of Cory Maye, a black Mississippi man who was jailed after firing on cops busting down his door in a botched drug raid wrongly targeting Maye’s home. After putting his infant daughter down to sleep, Maye awoke to his door being battered down by cops searching for Maye’s neighbor, prompting a terrified response that led to the shooting and killing of police officer Ron Jones, Jr.
A disproportionate share of the outrage surrounding the case, which was eventually resolved only after Maye served ten years in prison, was seen emanating from right-wing “liberty”-oriented sites – Reason, Cop Block, Outside the Beltway - with only honorable mentions going to the likes of ThinkProgress (even then, the piece was penned by Matt Yglesias, who’s not always on good terms with
other progressives). In fact, Maye’s case was a singular obsession for Reason contributor Radley Balko, who’s been credited with getting Maye released in 2011 – and sparing him the death penalty.
But none of the above stopped NPR contributor “Jay Smooth” from accusing Balko of being hostile to women, black folks and other POC (“people of color”) in a Twitter spat earlier this year.
Conservatives are accused of harboring animosity toward racial minorities because they’re virtually never eager stick their necks out when there’s an accusation of racism involved. Minority interests qua minorities appear to elicit indifference at best. But then that’s no surprise given the notion of “color-blindness,” an idea once considered enlightened but now seen as naive – and as an idea only a white person could love, according to Soledad O’Brien. The pundit claimed in May at a Harvard speaking gig that it’s ”only white people who ever said that ‘if we could just see beyond race’…”. She’s backed up by research in social psychology showing that white parents are more eager than their black counterparts to instill a “don’t see race” point of view in their kids.
If those on the right aren’t hip to the supposed naiveté of overlooking race, it’s not because of any bad faith on their part. For the most part. Rather, they’re just not privy to notions of “structural” racism and the like. So expect them to come to the defense of minorities in their capacity as such only incidentally, and as a result of their being sensitive only to transgressions that almost anyone can suffer. Like a pet put down by the po. Or the only-in-America phenomenon of a gun owner placed at the mercy of an overzealous war on drugs.