Samuel Johnson

How Not To Be A Racist

 

 

I wish I could say  the above video is an exaggeration, but it really isn’t.  Timothy Noah demonstrates this in The New Republic in a charming article entitled, Romney Cribs from the GOP’s Willie Horton Playbook.  In the article Noah somehow fails to note that in 1988 the first candidate to bring up the fact that Michael Dukakis as governor of Massachusetts defended a furlough policy for prisoners, including convicted first degree murderers serving a life sentence, was Al Gore.  Willie Horton, a first degree murderer serving a life sentence, received a weekend furlough, did not come back, and committed the crimes of rape, assault and auto theft.  Horton was sentenced to two life sentences plus 85 years in Maryland.  The Maryland judge refused to return him to Massachusetts, saying, “I’m not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released. This man should never draw a breath of free air again.”  Michael Dukakis as governor of Massachusetts thought that such furloughs were a great idea and defended the policy.  Bush is accused by Noah of racism for bringing up these very inconvenient facts against Dukakis.

So much for history.  How is Romney guilty of racism according to Noah?

Edsall sees the Romney campaign using race in two ways. Most overtly, the Romney campaign is accusing President Obama by of gutting welfare reform by dropping the work requirement—a gross distortion of an unexceptional waiver Obama granted several states allowing them to experiment with alternative ways to meet the work requirement. Two of the five governors requesting the waivers were Republicans, and among those who have denounced the workfare accusation as flat-out untrue is the Republican former congressman and current talk-show host Joe Scarborough. The second way Edsall sees the Romney campaign using race is more subtle. According to Edsall, Romney is conveying a racially-charged message in accusing Obama of taking money away from (mainly white recipients of) Medicare to fund (majority non-white recipients of) Obamacare.

According to Edsall, Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, have so far been leaving the race-baiting to ads on TV and the Internet while taking the high road in their own appearances. That isn’t quite right, as TNR’s Alec MacGillis has shown; Romney is not above integrating the welfare-based attack into his speeches. Now Romney has taken the game to a new level in an interview published today in USA Today. Romney tells USA Today’s Susan Page that Obama issued the welfare waivers to “shore up his base. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Dr. Johnson and His Dictionary

Dr. Samuel Johnson was a curmudgeon of the first order:  he hated Americans, Scots and any number of other groups.  A writer of genius in his own day, much of his writing has not held up well.  ( I defy anyone, for example, to read Rasselass without nodding off.)  A pensioner of King George III, his pen was bought and paid for, and he entered the lists against the King’s enemies in the pamphlet wars of Eighteenth Century England, as he did against the rebellious American colonists.  Having said all that, I do honor Johnson for two reasons.

First, because of his quick wit, often conveyed to us courtesy of James Boswell, Johnson’s companion and biographer.  A few samples:

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self- interest.

Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor; but even supposing knowledge to be easily attainable, more people would be content to be ignorant than would take even a little trouble to acquire it.

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.

Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!

Sir, they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for anything we allow them short of hanging. (Johnson, referring to Americans.)

It has been a common saying of physicians in England, that a cucumber should be well sliced, and dressed with pepper and vinegar, and then thrown out, as good for nothing.

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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