What do her tits have to do with anything?

Liberal blog Fables of the Reconstruction provides a “conservative blog taxomony.” Some of it made me chuckle (“Dean Esmay is popular among right-wingers as one of those centrists who just happen to hate liberals and Democrats”) , but his description of Michelle Malkin is pretty deplorable:

Far-right affirmative action hire who is so bigoted she’d arrest herself for trying to cross a border. Famously published a book praising internment of Japanese-Americans that was (a) incoherent and (b) probably not written by her. If she didn’t have tits, she’d be stuck writing at Townhall.com.

One comment-writer at Fables, Disputo, wrote in response: “I could do without the sexist language. Isn’t Malkin’s writings enough fodder for complaint? Must you also denigrate her for being a woman?” As far as I can tell (and it’s very possible I’ve missed a bunch), Disputo is the one and only lefty to object to the sexism – even though, as David Bernstein at Volokh points out, plenty of lefties have provided admiring comments or links.

Before anyone tells me “it was just a joke, you can’t object to jokes,” how would you have reacted if he wrote “if she wasn’t a slant-eyes….”?

Not the first time Malkin has received bigoted criticisms, and far from the grossest. Still, it would be nice if the allegedly anti-sexist and anti-racist half of the political spectrum was more, y’know, consistently anti-sexist and anti-racist.

UPDATE: See also Sivacracy and The Debate Link. From The Debate Link:

…Under this view, Malkin’s popularity is partially premised on her position as someone conservatives can point to and say: “Look! We’re not racist–some minorities agree with us!”–a status that is interwoven with her status as a woman and minority. And one could then extrapolate that if Malkin didn’t provide that particular service to conservatives (IE, being a conservative minority woman), she’d be a non-entity.

That argument is sophisticated, controversial, and debatable (I make no comment on whether or not it is correct as applied to Malkin). It is not, however, conveyed in a crude posting that marks Malkin’s success as solely attributable to her “tits.” Make the latter argument, but the former should be an anathema to true liberals.

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123 Responses to What do her tits have to do with anything?

  1. 101
    Robert says:

    …when in fact Ms. Malkin comes from a cultural background in which anti-Japanese sentiments are part of the common discourse…

    Actually, folks are assuming this cultural background – or imputing it to her genetics. You don’t know how she was raised.

  2. 102
    Jake Squid says:

    Well, there are 2 separate debates. One is about Malkin’s arguments. The other is about the symbolic signifigance (and the weight it does or does not give to Malkin’s words) of her gender & race.

    I think that her gender & her race is irrelevant to the former but that those are the substantive issues of the latter.

    Of course, nolo is right about the misconception in this case of “Asian” being viewed as a monolithic culture.

  3. 103
    nolo says:

    Robert, you’re absolutely right that I may be wrong (though you’re very incorrect in pretending that I’ve made a “genetic” argument — those are your words, not mine). Despite the fact that her immigrant parents are either members of the generation that experienced the Japanese occupation directly or were born very shortly thereafter to parents who had experienced the occupation directly, I suppose it’s still very possible that Michelle Malkin’s parents (or grandparents) never said anything about the occupation and never said anything negative about the Japanese. I have no direct knowledge either way, and of course anything’s possible. But if you had to place a bet, Robert, where would you put your money?

    That being said, my intention was not to add grist to the sideshow that is the debate over the significance of Ms. Malkin’s ethnicity. It was to point out that speculation about the significance of her ethnicity, aside from being irrelevant to the merits of her arguments, can also lead to wildly inconsistent conclusions depending on the facts you have at hand. Oh, and also to needle folks on both sides of the symbolism debate for the somewhat racist misconceptions upon which their respective positions are based.

  4. 104
    BritGirlSF says:

    Nolo, your point was perfectly clear to everyone except Robert, and entirely worth making in order to demonstrate the absurdity of viewing “Asian” as a homogenous identity. Frankly in many ways the Phillipines has more shared history and cultural links with Spain than it does with, for example, Japan, just to demonstrate how silly it is to view Asia as some kind of monolithic entity.

  5. 105
    alsis39 says:

    I am still intrigued with the question of whether Malkin is the token Asian in Conservative-land. Frankly, if conservatives are sincere about not wanting Asian voices to be perceived as some kind of monolith, with liberal (or liberal-sympathetic) voices as the supposed default, they ought to be asking themselves that, too. If there’s room at the top for all those White guys, isn’t there also room for more than one Asian ?

  6. 106
    Robert says:

    Frankly, if conservatives are sincere about not wanting Asian voices to be perceived as some kind of monolith…

    Conservatives, generally, don’t care about the question. Worrying about whether the People’s Committee has the proper number of ambidextrous Wiccan socialist lesbians of color is a leftist fetish. (Rightist fetishes involve Ann Coulter, a copy of Tip O’Neill’s book about black dysfunction in the inner city, and creamy brown gravy. Lots and lots of warm, sensuous gravy.)

    If there’s room at the top for all those White guys, isn’t there also room for more than one Asian ?

    As many as win themselves an audience. Or, pace Amanda, as many as we choose to grant audiences to. (I know I have a spare audience around here somewhere; maybe if you get around to starting that blog and promise to write about how feminism is eeeevil, I’ll assign it to you.)

  7. 107
    alsis39 says:

    I don’t see why conservatives should have it both ways, Robert. It’s kind of tough, to my mind, to avoid charges of tokenism when you elevate one member amongst millions of a single race to the top tier of your profession. It may not be your intent to have that one person as a universal spokesperson, but it ends up being an easy trap to fall into.

    As many as win themselves an audience.

    I’m confused. Did Malkin “win” as one wins a lottery ticket or did she “win” as one wins a marathon ? Who passed out the awards ? And if the awarders are largely White men, why should they get to be the only ones to bandy about terms like racism when it comes to their opponents ?

    Hey, enjoy your stand-up act, but I was actually quite serious.

  8. 108
    Sebastian Holsclaw says:

    ” don’t see why conservatives should have it both ways, Robert. It’s kind of tough, to my mind, to avoid charges of tokenism when you elevate one member amongst millions of a single race to the top tier of your profession.”

    The problem is you use ‘elevate’ but do not identify who you believe is doing the ‘elevating’. Who are these ‘conservatives’ who want to have it both ways. We need to names here. :)

  9. 109
    alsis39 says:

    Neither did Robert. I just assumed he meant the audiences for shows, political writings, and blogs. But those audiences don’t just wander out into some idealogical equivalent of a highly diverse, untrafficked ecosystem to find everything in that forrest to be equally visible and accessable, do they ?

    Sebastian, are there not foundations that exclusively cultivate conservative voices ? Think tanks ? Politicians ? Publishers ? Blogs ? As I tried to say a couple of times before, politics isn’t all that different from show biz in the sense that it’s marketed like a product. Someone, or several someones, are doing the marketing and laying out the money for it, in hopes of getting both tangible and intangible returns. Despite Robert’s jokes, that’s not a wild-eyed conspiracy theory. It’s the market. You know, the one that conservatives so often talk about as the be-all and end-all of human existence. The one that you say is inherently “free” and that I say is exactly the opposite of “free.”

  10. 110
    Robert says:

    It’s kind of tough, to my mind, to avoid charges of tokenism when you elevate one member amongst millions of a single race to the top tier of your profession.

    What “race” do you believe Malkin to be the sole exemplar of?

    Who “elevated” her? From what I can see, she worked hard in high school to get the credentials that won her a place at a prestigious college. She worked hard at that college which bought her the chops to get a job at two metropolitan papers. She worked hard at the papers, which won her an audience in the community and the respect of her peers. That opened the door for her to get in at a prestigious think tank, where pundit-wannabes often spend a year or so burnishing their credentials. She did all of this while also being a wife and mother. (Well, not the high school and college part.)

    She spent 15 years becoming an overnight success. I don’t see a whole lot of elevating. Perhaps you do.

    Did Malkin “win” as one wins a lottery ticket or did she “win” as one wins a marathon ? Who passed out the awards ? And if the awarders are largely White men, why should they get to be the only ones to bandy about terms like racism when it comes to their opponents ?

    She “won” by writing stuff that people want to read, that is informative, thought-provoking, or what have you.

    The bizarre worldview where a cabal of white men decide who’s going to be successful had a glimmer of truth, in the days when citizen media meant whatever the paperboy chose to yell. Michelle Malkin got 80,000 daily readers pretty much the minute she opened her blog. The Ivory Tower Of Power Conspiracy doesn’t have that many members.

  11. 111
    alsis39 says:

    What “race” do you believe Malkin to be the sole exemplar of?

    Robert, this thread is as close to us having a real discussion as I can recall in the entire history of this blog. Please don’t fuck it up by being willfully dense. You’ve read the thread. Don’t be obtuse. It just misdirects the conversation.

    Who “elevated” her? From what I can see, she worked hard in high school to get the credentials that won her a place at a prestigious college. She worked hard at that college which bought her the chops to get a job at two metropolitan papers. She worked hard at the papers, which won her an audience in the community and the respect of her peers. That opened the door for her to get in at a prestigious think tank, where pundit-wannabes often spend a year or so burnishing their credentials. She did all of this while also being a wife and mother. (Well, not the high school and college part.)

    That’s all well and good. What I don’t get is the idea that somehow she’d be the only Asian in the entire U.S. to have been good enough to compete at the top tier of a White-male-dominated profession. I don’t consider that a Lefty “fetish,” since you’ll find similar tokenism throughout the political world in one form or another.

    Robert, you can try to dismiss what I’m asking by trotting out terms like “cabal” and “conspiracy,” but you’re contradicting your own point by simultaneously describing the structure that helped put Malkin in the public eye and then denying it exists. Honestly, that’s just weird.

  12. 112
    Robert says:

    you’re contradicting your own point by simultaneously describing the structure that helped put Malkin in the public eye

    The “work hard and go to college” structure?

    As for why there aren’t many top-tier Asian journalists, beats me. Democrats run the newsrooms; maybe they hate Asians. On my side of the ideological fence, there doesn’t appear to be any particular bias against them; Ramesh Ponnuru, Malkin, Dinesh D’Souza, and so forth.

  13. 113
    alsis39 says:

    The “work hard and go to college” structure?

    [rolleyes]

    Forget it, Robert. I don’t know why I even bothered to assume that you could for once conduct an exchange without playing your usual games of disingenuous bait-and-switch. But we’re not here for genuine exchange, of course. We’re here so you can have something to poke with a stick for your own amusement. What was I thinking ?

    Show’s over, Folks. Move along. Nothing to see, etc…

  14. 114
    Radfem says:

    “Democrats run the newsrooms.”

    No, they don’t. Although one oft-quoted study found that print journalists are more likely to pick opinions on various issues more aligned with liberal thought, the publishers who own most of the publications they right for are political conversatives. And if you don’t think that higher management and publishers influence content of a news reporters writing, then you haven’t worked in journalism, or haven’t very long.

    There’s glass ceilings in journalism like anything else for men of color and women, including Asian-American women. Conservative, Liberal, racial discrimination still exists in the workplace.

  15. 115
    Radfem says:

    A big Doh!, too, because I looked up Malkin and realized after seeing her picture that she’s one of the “new wave” columnists in our daily newspaper(which has got to be one of the most right-wing dailies in the country right now) op-ed section which I’ve been boycotting since the most leftist columnist who survived the purge(goodbye Scheer, Goodman and Page), was Maureen Dowd….

  16. 116
    alsis39 says:

    Maureen Dowd is a Lefty in the same way that Tony Roma’s[tm] is a BBQ shack. :p

  17. 117
    Mr Ripley says:

    The James Baldwin book is probably No Name in the Street. A classic, underrated in part because it was radical enough to make liberals rather uncomfortable.

  18. 118
    alsis39 says:

    Ripley, I know that No Name was included in the collection. Not sure whether it’s the one where I saw that particular comment, however.

  19. 119
    Radfem says:

    alsis, dooooon’t take away the clooosest thing our newspaper has to a leeeefist nooooow!

    **the only positive thing was that they did “recycle” out Ann Coulter**

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  21. 120
    Sebastian Holsclaw says:

    “What I don’t get is the idea that somehow she’d be the only Asian in the entire U.S. to have been good enough to compete at the top tier of a White-male-dominated profession. ”

    Connie Chung does fairly well. I know that I don’t even watch TV news.

  22. 121
    alsis39 says:

    [sarcasm:]

    Well, I guess that puts my worries to bed once and for all. Thanks, S !

    [/sarcasm]

    Radfem, they just hated Ann cuz’ she’s beautiful.

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