I puked in my mouth a little last night when Chris Matthews, watching the State of the Union, said that “I forgot [Obama] was black tonight, for an hour.” Tweeted it, got nearly 100 new followers because of it and even saw my friend Michael Calderone bizarrely try to explain that “Matthews’s line about Obama’s skin color was part of a longer comment about the presidency and race,” as if Matthews’ critics didn’t understand the context. But it’s whatever.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes the definitive statement about Matthews’ remark. I can only excerpt:

I’m put back in the mind of the The Wire, when Slim Charles tells Avon that it really doesn’t matter that our wars are based on a lie. Once we’re fighting, we fight on that lie until the end. I would submit that a significant number of white people in this country, can not stop fighting on the lie. They can’t cop to the fact that they really have no standing to speak on Obama’s relationship to blackness, because they know so little about black people. It’s always hard to say, “I don’t know.” But no one else can say it for you.

Well said. I would add that this applies perfectly to the presumption that you see Jews, particularly on the right, endlessly making to understanding “Arab culture.” And all that ever cashes out to is the contention that Arabs only respect force, so you have to beat the shit out of them if you want them respect you. An ugly, savage, illiberal and racist argument. But you’re never going to hear people who get paid to pretend that their ignorance is wisdom concede that what they’re really up to is forging pseudo-respectable pretexts for injustice.

This, by the way, also holds true for those who pretend to understand “Jewish power” or “Jewish loyalty to Israel.” So you motherfuckers need to stay out of my comment threads. The world is more complicated, and we Jews are more complicated, than your ignorance allows.

Lord knows that this also applies to malignant Arab stereotypes of Jews, but since I’m confronted far more frequently by affluent, comfortable Jews who say foul shit or imply foul shit about Arabs and Muslims — and because I’m part of that community — that’s why I’ve written this post the way I have.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman

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