Monday, January 10, 2011

civility or silencing?

In Clinton denounces extremism after Arizona shooting, she said:
The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that's not who we are, that's not who you are, and what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn't represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions.
Is she suggesting we silence those who disagree with the Democrats and the Republicans? On a number of issues, including taxing the rich, the "crazy voices" are the majority of the American people.

A few months back, I wrote on "fail" and "the tone argument" and noted that the assumption that working class folks can't be polite is all kinds of classist: A famous working class response to rude folks is "Didn't your mama raise you right?"

But the people who cite the tone argument are not completely wrong. The upper class wants to control the discourse. They will sidestep substance by objecting to style.

So, while it's awfully disingenuous of graduates of expensive private universities to make "the tone argument" in their own defense, they're right. It ain't how you say it; it's what you say.

The footnotes:

This post was inspired by The Crow's Eye: Lessons from the last two days of professional liberalism.

Two examples of private school grads defining the tone argument: The Angry Black Woman: The Privilege of Politeness by Naamen Gobert Tilahun and coffeeandink: nice is different than good.

Googling for examples, I came on Think Galacticon’s Statement on Privilege, which begins, "Think Galactic is a pro-woman, pro-queer, and anti-racist group that dreams of a world without oppressive hierarchies." That's a perfect example of middle class radicalism: they don't dream of a world without hierarchies; they dream of being the benevolent hierarchs.