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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bob Ellis Spreads Misogyny and Racism in Obama Sissification

Obama hangs curtains at a teen shelter, January 19, 2009. Reuters
Bob Ellis posts one of the stupidest things I've heard from him all month. He recycles old e-mail forward fodder that I can trace back to some rag called the Oregon Catalyst, which juxtaposes photos of Ronald Reagan running a chain saw, George W. Bush clearing brush, and Barack Obama hanging curtains. Bob's clear intent: to perpetuate the "Obama is a sissy" meme (which didn't exactly win over the electorate last year).

Andrew Munson offers a good response:

I like this.

Reagan - sawing wood at his expensive ranch.
Bush - hauling wood at his expensive ranch.
Obama - hanging curtains at a homeless shelter, while doing work for charity.

Goodness, Barack. What a girl! Helping out the homeless... [Andrew Munson, comment, Oregon Catalyst, 2009.05.19]

Barack Obama paints a wall at a teen shelter, January 19, 2009. CBS
So does Erin Heidelberger:

Seriously? Why isn't serving at a homeless shelter for teenagers considered real work? He painted, too--is that manly enough for you? I think it says a lot about a man whether he's willing to work in actual service to someone else or merely clean up a little around his own ranch [Erin Heidelberger, comment, "The Measure of a Man," Dakota Voice, 2009.06.24].

I was going to say, Bob, that if you need to portray a powerful and articulate black man as a sissy just to affirm your own manhood, then fine, knock yourself out. But no. Bob, your insults are misogynist. They are sexist. They contradict your professed Christianity. And they don't contribute in the least to intelligent political debate. So knock it off.

I welcome criticism and disagreement. But when you have to stoop to calling the President or anyone else a weenie, you've got nothing.

Update 2009.06.25 08:35 CDT: Predictably, Ellis responds with the usual mishmash of red herrings and challenges to the manhood of any man who disagrees with him. He suggests my argument is nothing more than pandering to feminists (like Anna at DakotaWomen, who concurs with my critique).

My friends, forgive me my response:

"pander to feminists": oh Bob. I take the feminist line because it is against my principles to try proving my point by getting into a silly macho showdown. I also take the feminist line because (darn, I am about to violate my principles) beating you in a silly macho showdown (what, clearing brush? hauling railroad ties? building a deck? biking 50 miles?) would be far too easy.

For penance, say it with me, Red Green fans: "I'm a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess."

Update 13:00 CDT: A few commenters have had some criticism, but only Tim has had the courtesy to attach his name to said criticism. Thank you, Tim. Everyone else must be trolling the blogs from their work computers....


  1. How do we know that the pictures of Reagan and Bush are on their expensive ranches and they too are not doing charity work?

    Tim Higgins

  2. I really fail to see how this is racist.

    Tim Higgins

  3. Tim, I recall the Reagan picture from the 1980s. I recall actually admiring the Reagan photos (and still do, in a way!), as they show a man in his seventies still being physically active. But the comparison Ellis makes is wrong on several counts. Images are harder to search (especially older images from the 1980s), so it will take a while to find the verification of the date and location of the photos. I'm open to evidence to the contrary, that Reagan and Bush were clearing brush to make way for a homeless shelter or a Nature Conservancy project... but I'm pretty certain that both the Reagan and Bush photos are from their ranches, during their vacations... and surely as much of a photo op as anything Obama or any other president does when a camera is around. The notion that Ellis's comparison says anything different about Obama than it does about Reagan and Bush is wrong on several levels. (And yes, the racism is there. It's subtext, but it's there.)


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