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A Rejoinder to Gore Vidal

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Posted on Nov 14, 2008
Gumbel and Gore
Andrew Gumbel / Zuade Kaufman, Truthdig

Contested words: Andrew Gumbel (left) stands by his Vanity Fair (Spanish edition) profile of Gore Vidal.

By Andrew Gumbel

Gore Vidal has often treated writing as a blood sport, and it’s heartening to see he has lost none of his appetite for pursuing enemies, real or perceived, like a game hunter addicted to the sheer brutal entertainment of the chase.

From a personal point of view, of course, it’s a little less heartening when the target happens to be me.

His Truthdig article this week is one long torrent of invective against my professional integrity as a journalist, and against what he sees as my scurrilous motives when interviewing him on behalf of the new Spanish-language Vanity Fair magazine.

He accuses me of libeling him, but also manages to portray me, without any factual basis, as a tabloid hack who spreads “Republican-style lies,” who knows nothing about his political writing, who is malicious and confused, and on and on. One could wonder who exactly is libeling whom here, but that’s an argument I sincerely hope we don’t have to have.

Instead, let me describe what happened in the interview and why I felt compelled to report what was, in my experience, the single most shockingly racist line of the 2008 presidential election campaign.

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Vidal may be surprised to hear it, but I am a fan of his political writing. I think he is a spectacular prose stylist whose contrarian, irascible intelligence and wit jump out of every page. He has been kind to me in the past, crediting my work on the corruptions of the American electoral system and hosting me several times at parties at his beautiful Hollywood Hills home.

So the first thing to say is that I approached the interview without even a glimmer of malice. In fact, quite the contrary.

The conversation turned quickly to politics. He professed a certain high-minded disinterest in the great primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, which had just concluded, saying he preferred to reread Aristotle and contemplate the inevitable collapse of the Republic.

He talked a lot about class, and in particular the notion of societies cultivating an enduring ruling elite. He talked about George W. Bush as an embarrassment to that class, and about Harry Truman—an old punching bag of his—as someone who was not a member and had no business being in political leadership in the first place. In fact he called Truman a “helot,” the name for a slave in ancient Sparta.

He told me he was writing a play about the confrontation between Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur on Wake Island, where they met for one day in 1950 to discuss Korean War strategy. MacArthur, for him, was a towering figure—“Shogun, the Mikado … a character from Shakespeare”—next to Truman, the vulgar one-time haberdasher who “pretended to read a lot of history, but didn’t understand it.”

He then pulled out the text of MacArthur’s famously poetic farewell address to the cadets at West Point and read extensively from it. “This is the Emperor Augustus,” he said, visibly moved. “Nobody in America gives a speech like that anymore.”

Almost sheepishly, I asked him whether Obama’s rhetorical skills weren’t at least worth considering for comparison. And that was when he dropped his bombshell: “Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”

I was stunned. Flabbergasted. And deeply troubled about where this thought had come from. The piece I wrote for Vanity Fair ended up being a 3,500-word framing device to try to make sense of that one line. My argument, which I later condensed for The Huffington Post, was that it had something to do with Vidal’s vision of this country’s ruling elite, of who deserves to belong and who does not. To the extent that the line was racist—and I believe it most certainly was—racism is not the only explanation. He considers Obama, like Truman, as a helot, not a ruler.

I may be right or wrong about that, but the stubborn fact remains: He uttered the line. It was very deliberate, and its reference to Obama was crystal-clear. I reported it not because I wanted to tarnish his reputation or to make mischief but because there was no getting around it. I gave my interpretation; others are welcome to give theirs. And if Vidal stops denying that he said it, it might be instructive to hear his explanation too. I, for one, would be all ears.


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By ian mcgrady, January 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_masks_outrageous_and_austere

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By Inherit The Wind, November 26, 2008 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

cyrena, November 25 at 3:50 am #

Inherit the Wind writes:

“Do I mis-remember or didn’t somebody call YOU mentally ill, Cyrena? (and, if it was me, it was a LONG time ago…..but since then)”

~~~~

I can remember only the crazed Douglas Chalmers calling me mentally ill, and that was a really creepy case. I don’t generally get creeped-out by too many on this forum, but it’s the only forum where I HAVE been creeped out by a few. So, he was the one who made it a point to accuse me of having his psychological issues. (There’s a psychobabble term for it, but I can’t think of it, if I ever knew it.)

**************************************************

I think the PB term is “PROJECTION”.  (PB is, of course, psychobabble…:) smile )

**************************************************
I don’t remember you ever suggesting that I was mentally ill, even in the most heated of our arguments, just like I never thought you were. smile

I do agree about the assorted crackpots that are ever-present on this site though. I don’t think they represent a majority, but there are still enough of them to notice. Some days/weeks it feels like a virtual tour of a facility for all of the ‘undiagnosed’ and miscellaneous whackos of the world.

And here I thought I was retired….

It’s all those conspiracy theories….

“Don’t tell me: You’re from Outer Space!”
“No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in Outer Space.”
“I KNEW Outer Space was going to come into it sooner or later. Go ahead. I’m all ears!”
“You’re sure you want to hear this?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”
—From Star Trek IV: The Journey Home. Dialogue between Dr. Jillian and Capt. Kirk.

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By Sam, November 25, 2008 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: “Why didn’t you ask him what he meant when he said it?”

Exactly.  The rest is hot air.

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By cyrena, November 25, 2008 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind writes:

“Do I mis-remember or didn’t somebody call YOU mentally ill, Cyrena? (and, if it was me, it was a LONG time ago…..but since then)”

~~~~

I can remember only the crazed Douglas Chalmers calling me mentally ill, and that was a really creepy case. I don’t generally get creeped-out by too many on this forum, but it’s the only forum where I HAVE been creeped out by a few. So, he was the one who made it a point to accuse me of having his psychological issues. (There’s a psychobabble term for it, but I can’t think of it, if I ever knew it.)

I don’t remember you ever suggesting that I was mentally ill, even in the most heated of our arguments, just like I never thought you were. smile

I do agree about the assorted crackpots that are ever-present on this site though. I don’t think they represent a majority, but there are still enough of them to notice. Some days/weeks it feels like a virtual tour of a facility for all of the ‘undiagnosed’ and miscellaneous whackos of the world.

And here I thought I was retired….

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By Tom Stringer, November 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why didn’t you ask him what he meant when he said it?

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By Folktruther, November 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment

Vidal is an Elitist but by no means a windbag.  He just has a lot to say and he says it very elegantly.  Well, maybe I would concede that he has perhaps overwritten artistically, but his political essays are among the best of the last half of the century.  Which really hasn’t been a very good…

I don’t seem to be making a very strong argument here.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 20, 2008 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

cyrena, November 19 at 8:40 pm #

By Paracelsus, November 16 at 10:08 pm
• “…Also a long studied psychoanalysis meant to portray a TD member as mentally ill veers into libel as opposed to a short rejoinder calling some crazy or “You’re nuts!” which would be ad hominem and slimy but not libel. At least that is how I feel about it. But I can only pray for the good judgments of TD staff…”

~~~~

Gee Paracelsus,

What an odd thing to say. Seems like you’ve written similar comments before. Makes one inclined to think that there’s something…amiss.
******************************************

Do I mis-remember or didn’t somebody call YOU mentally ill, Cyrena? (and, if it was me, it was a LONG time ago…..but since then)

******************************************

Meantime…Why are you so paranoid?

******************************************

Just ‘cuz yer paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to getcha!

Paranoia is the normal state of mind at Truthdig where there’s a conspiracy, usually a crackpot tin-foil-hat one around every corner…“They are poisoning our precious bodily fluids!”

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By cyrena, November 19, 2008 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

By Paracelsus, November 16 at 10:08 pm
•  “…Also a long studied psychoanalysis meant to portray a TD member as mentally ill veers into libel as opposed to a short rejoinder calling some crazy or “You’re nuts!” which would be ad hominem and slimy but not libel. At least that is how I feel about it. But I can only pray for the good judgments of TD staff…”

~~~~

Gee Paracelsus,

What an odd thing to say. Seems like you’ve written similar comments before. Makes one inclined to think that there’s something…amiss.  Just a thought.
Anyway, it has nothing to do with good ‘judgments’ of the TD staff or much of anybody else. There’s tons of stuff available on copyright law/protocol and Internet protocol and all the rest of it. It took a long time for the law to catch up with technology, and it has presented an entire new field of legal inquiry, but it is by now relatively developed.  It would appear that you are totally unaware of such changes in the infrastructure, (including the institutional infrastructure) that has come about from the technology that has been made available over the past decade or better.

Bottom line…THINGS HAVE CHANGED!!!

You should try to catch-up. Now is as good a time as any. This is Perry Mason stuff you’re sprouting.

Meantime…Why are you so paranoid?

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By Inherit The Wind, November 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

Michael Horan, November 19 at 8:23 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

To compare Vidal and Nader in terms of windbaggery, as someone does above, is nonsensical. A longtime supporter of Nader, I felt the need to take to take him to task on my own web site after his callous reference to Obama as a potential “Uncle Tom” the night of the election. Wrong wording, Ralph, even though the actual metaphor, by the look of things, is unhappily appropriate; and even worse timing—for a while there, that night, it wasn’t about Obama.
***************************************

That would be me. See, you don’t like Vidal so you are fine with calling him a windbag (with which I agree) and his remark as racist (with which I also agree).  But you defend your “St. Ralph” when he does the same things…and, yes, a White man calling a Black man “Uncle Tom” is just as racist. And Nader IS a windbag and has been one for at least 3 election cycles, if not more.

You see, it all comes down to whose ox is being…(dare I say it?)...gored.

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By veno, November 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How tall is Gore Vidal?  Is he possibly “peasant stock”?  Hopefully, it won’t take another 300 years for intelligent humans to realize it isn’t about skin color, hair color, or physical stature.  Social mores change, apparently, some brilliant men of letters do not.

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By DHFabian, November 19, 2008 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

Though giving the benefit of the doubt…  “Slave” does not necessarily designate race.  If a president -elect is a slave to our political system—that is, a slave to Big Money and corporate interests ahead of the American people—we have little reason for optimism.  We can expect the same old package, just with different wrapping paper.

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By Marilyn Arana Cazon, November 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the elitist windbag description of Mr. Vidal.  It is amazing how much damage a few generations of entitlement and power can do to a man’s self-image.  Sheer delusion sinks in when your ancestors held power for one or two generations.  You tend to believe then, that just by being their descendant, you are somebody.  Mr. Vidal is a worshiper of fallen gods, a disappearing act, a member of a has-been ruling class.  At his age, it must be hard to let go of the belief that just because he is who he think he is, he still has something to say about this country.  But deep in his heart, Mr. Vidal must know that 20 years from now, nothing he has done or said will be remembered.  He deserves more pity than hatred or scorn.

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By KDelphi, November 19, 2008 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

I knew this thread would spawn alot of whites trying to “plead their ‘i am not a racist’, but everyone else is” case…sigh.

Just to throw this out there (if anyone is stil here): So, is al-Zawahri a racist? Of so, how are his comments so much different than those of Nader and Vidal?

I am NOT posting an opinion here—positing a question..

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By JNagarya, November 19, 2008 at 11:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nader has been passing legislation
_____

Not actually: one must be an eledcted official to do that, and Nader has never been that.

But as for comparing one classless classist windbag and racist with another . . . go back and review the confrontation between Vidal and Mailer for an accurate picture of who Vidal is as concerns us “common folk”.

Funny how some will fall for anything said against those one hates—in this instance Vidal against Bushit—without concern for the quality of the source that agrees. 

Nader has been at it for forty or so years, but he stopped accomplishing anything at least twenty years ago.  In recent decades he’s spent all his time running for office as candidates for FRINGE parties which will never fulfill their utopian promise because their adherents are staunchly stubborn unreconstructed fantasizing neophytes.

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By @T, November 19, 2008 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

writeon writes:

“Personally I’m not a great fan of Obama’s rhetorical sytle at all. It’s not to my taste. I think he does big, set-piece, speeches quite well, but then I’ve heard it all before, and can do that kind of stuff in my sleep. On a smaller scale; in debates and in interviews, he’s far less impressive, in my opinion. He flip-flops, he waffles, he not on the point, he’s defuse; I don’t really remember much of what he says, or more importantly means. He’s not concrete. He gives the impression of saying more than he really does.”

Writeon’s twice the writer, at least, that Gumbel is.

Obama’s going to turn out to be a big disappointment to white liberals who’ve over-praised him for being able to read a teleprompter.

Meanwhile, in the slightly-more-real world, The CHANGEling’s backed off even his over-played public promise of a puppy for his own children.

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By Michael Horan, November 19, 2008 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To compare Vidal and Nader in terms of windbaggery, as someone does above, is nonsensical. A longtime supporter of Nader, I felt the need to take to take him to task on my own web site after his callous reference to Obama as a potential “Uncle Tom” the night of the election. Wrong wording, Ralph, even though the actual metaphor, by the look of things, is unhappily appropriate; and even worse timing—for a while there, that night, it wasn’t about Obama.

That said, Nader’s hardly a “windbag—the man has done the thankless work in the trenches for four decades—a far cry from the Vidals who sit pontificating in their “beautiful Hollywood homes.” While Vidal weeps over MacArthur, his latter day Augustus (huh?), and peers deeply into Aristotle, Nader has been passing legislation—about as romantic as sausage-making, as Bismarck once said. 

As far as Vidal goes, the man’s nothing but a tawdry old romantic, playing the eminence grise whilst tossing brickbats from whatever grand estate he currently occupies, and accomplishing precisely nothing. His heyday was right around that of Mick Jagger, and he’s done about as much meaningful and original work since as has the aging Stone. Mr Nader’s book-length resume lists more own-home accomplishments than any of his detractors can boast; Mr Vidal can list a few publications reaching an ever shrinking group of elitists. He’s hardly a “leftist” in any case.

I found his comment repugnant—the first phrase was bad enough, the second, nauseating. One presumes that slam poetry, rap, and hip hop, with their assorted “slave” beats, are the songs of helots, while Vidal would play Virgil to his sadly passed Augustus. Was this worth 3500 words? Nah.But it’s always worth showing the true colors of our wannabe arbiters elegentarum.

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By Nataloff, November 19, 2008 at 8:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is an elitist, not a racist, and good for him. He has long been a Progressive, if not a radical, and his works, especially his plays, are rich with characters who express many positions, not all of them necessarily those the writer shares. Vidal was also quite correct when he criticized Obama—which is how I interpret the quote—as speaking more with form than of content; i.e., more music than lyrics. But Vidal doesn’t need defending for using irony in an interview with someone he may have considered a partisan any more than David Howard, an aide to Washington, DC mayor Anthony Williams, needed defending for using the word “niggardly” in a 1999 budget conference. Sure, he could have said “parsimonious,” but why should he be held accountable for others’ ignorance and paranoia? In the Obama case it was journalistically risky for Gumbel to have built an entire column around a single quote without confirming with his subject that he said it, what he meant by it, and whether he was in a fit frame of mind to be giving the interview. As a journalist I, too, have been flabbergasted by things I have been told in interviews. (A famous African-American actress whom I won’t name once told me, on the record, that she thought all black people [her term] would be happier if they went back to Africa. She was not being ironic. I didn’t print it. Call me corrupt). Next?

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By moineau, November 19, 2008 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

i think the basic problem is that around twenty years, white people started getting a pass. if criticized for a racist statement, the immediate defense now is “but i’m not a racist!” or “i know him/her so well, and they are not racist.”

when i was young and working in the women’s antiviolence movement with a rainbow of women, we white women learned that we were indeed racist; being born into this culture where whites have the majority of power, money, respect, how could we not be? it was true then and it is true now.

but somewhere along the way, a wall was erected between those who are intentioned to be racist and those who simply make unfortunate comments about race: the former is racist, the second is supposedly not. it’s true that the latter does not consciously try to keep people of color down, but unconsciously when making a racist remark, isn’t there an attempt on the part of this supposedly ‘non-racist’ person to gain mastery over someone of another race? the remark itself is even said not to be racist, lest that term taint the perfected character of the speaker. but who among us is untainted? who is perfected? (bill clinton? gore vidal? me?)

in my opinion, this is hubris, and the shift in rhetoric that resulted is unfortunate. white people could continue to say, more humbly, yes, it was a racist remark, still working on myself, i’m sorry; this would be so much more honest. people of color could do the same when it comes to prejudices between races.

oh, how i wish we’d all just get back to the truth. but i suppose that’s subjective as well…

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By Inherit The Wind, November 18, 2008 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment

Jonathan, November 18 at 2:51 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is the most overrated pompous windbag alive. This Emperor has no clothes. The Obama line is offensive but no less obtuse and pretentious than anything else I have read by Vidal.
*****************************************

Not true! I beg to differ and I’m NO defender of Gore Vidal.

Let’s remember: Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are both FAR bigger windbags than Vidal EVER will be.

But the biggest windbag on the left?  There’s always Ralph Nader and Bill Clinton ...

However, Gore IS a big windbag—just not the biggest….

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By LTJX, November 18, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nearly all of us are creatures of our era in history, some more than others.  Mr. Gumbal has shown himself to be a hard-core child of the era of Political Correctitude, that most unfortunate tendency among liberals to unleash their inner fascist, by means of a strict, harsh and unforgiving enforcement of linguistic orthodoxy, presumably meant to shield certain approved sub-groups of humans (any sub-group but white-males may apply for approval) from EVER hearing any less than approving language, directed at (or near) their respective sub-group.  A key enforcement theory is that such possibly negative language is declared (by fiat, as in mathematics) to be equal to “hate speech”, a form of assault and therefore a very serious crime.  Good citizens report crimes they observe (usually) and Mr. Gumbal wanted to be a darn good citizen.
On the other hand, a “regular guy” or someone from a different era than Mr. Gumbal would have just laughed it off, or ignored it, as a just barely inappropriate comment - from a man who may be America’s most highly respected man of letters on the left.  However, Gore Vidal may also be a man of his era, the WWII generation when white America was “king of the hill” and ruled the best parts of the world, when the emerging modern world was (and largely still is) a technological wonderland invented mostly (>90%) by white males, and when such humor was commonplace among men - though sometimes in an ironic half jest, or perhaps part of a running joke with multiple levels of meaning, especially among intellectuals.  If Gore Vidal really said this (and he says not) then Mr. Gumbal should have cut his learned and gracious host, his esteemed senior, a bit of slack.  Instead, Gumbal makes a single off-hand quip the subject of his entire piece - as if we have nothing better to worry about!
BTW, I voted for Obama.

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By Jonathan, November 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal is the most overrated pompous windbag alive. This Emperor has no clothes. The Obama line is offensive but no less obtuse and pretentious than anything else I have read by Vidal.

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By Professor, November 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Forget the words.  Use thine eyes.  Take a good gander at the dueling photos affixed above to adjudicate the dispute.  Unless you are prejudiced (or “prejudice” as the youth of today are so happily wont to render it) against the aged (most felicitous and facile and decorous of prejudices), Vidal is categorically the good guy in the movie, Gumbel the ever-chagrined philandering cheese-parer.

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By SusanSunflower, November 18, 2008 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

The web these days reminds me a bit of the stirrings of the Chinese Cultural Revolution ... cough… and not in a good way ...

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By Arkinsaw, November 17, 2008 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Perhaps Vidal was paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson:

“Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry.—Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry.” from Notes on the State of Virginia

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3h490t.html

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By Dr. Ron Conant, November 17, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gumbel obviously has made a long stretch regarding his perception of what he thought he heard from Gore Vidal at a Hollywood party.  Sure, can’t blame the guy, he wants to be sure he is headlined, while selling the Vanity Fair magazine. What else is new?

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By KDelphi, November 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

tomack—If you find the discussion mundane—all of it—you should scroll past.

After you scold people as to what their vs your standards are.

Even if you do not, I, for many , am really tired of having censorship on the interenet. With the MSM being swallowed up as it has, where else would a person express an honest opinion?

As to anyone’s “taste”—there is just no accounting for it..

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prole's avatar

By prole, November 17, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

More like a tempest-in-a-teapot than any putative “bombshell”. To spill 3500 words on such a flippant aside gives new credence to the threadbare metaphor of “writing as a blood sport”. And it’s dis-heartening to see it used in such a cheap-shot way by a kiss-and-tell journalist who’s own apparent Vanity has caused him to be less than Fair to Vidal, who’s own admirable and illuminating output over many decades needs no defense from the scurrilous innuendo of upstart journalistic gunslingers, looking to tag onto such a venerable figures noteriety, if even in a wholly negative way. “One” could wonder “who exactly is libeling whom” here but judging by the many comments it seems pretty obvious who is libeling whom to most, and it’s not Vidal.  If this indeed is “the single most shockingly racist line of the 2008 presidential election campaign” then it says a lot more about the sanitary campaign than it does about the line - neither of which show any trace of the racist bogeyman despite a herculean effort here to invent one. That may be right or wrong, to make such a calumny but the “stubborn fact” remains, it’s low blow by a low journeyman journalist on Vidal, ever a grand author and senior activist who’s long years of service as a rare voice of conscience on the world literary stage needs no defense.

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By tomack, November 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

I find the discussion rather mundane as these go. Hardly anything personally offensive other than the lack of “general good TASTE”. Applied to everyone. Has to do with creating an argument, or statement, or essay-like message that can be at the same time informative, concise, and without personal rancor or insult.

You know, an example to our political leaders—and our children. I could give two shits about what the “moderators” allow or not, I just think the discourse can be just a little bit easier on the eye. 

Now I’ll scroll down….and away.

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By KDelphi, November 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Whose “taste”? What if I buy up a bunch of sites and dont want anyone denying Christianity as the “one true religion”? Or Islam? Or atheism?The Moral Majority?

What if I find , even the word “buddha” offensive? (I dont)

That is the problem—WHO gets to decide…Bush? Obama? YOu? Me?

What if the webmaster (excuse me, webmaster…hehe)decides that any reference to anyone agaisnt his own preferred candidate is wrong—-should he just block all dissenting views? You would be surprised how quickly you woudl get bored.

They always say that it is a slippery slope—but it just happens to be true.

Strange how the two who were “being so rude” dont seem to be phased by the discussion..

If you are an adult (and, you should be , here) scroll past it. Grow up.

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By tomack, November 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

You are right, Mr. Mandel, how is it possible to discern exactly what someone is thinking purely by their words. I am offended by those words, but who among us has not said something we later regret.

“To see the truth of a thing, words are not always the guide.”

-Tomack The Magnificent

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By Howard Mandel, November 17, 2008 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are a hack. I’ll be watching the trial with interest. It’s seems like you sat down for a real interview, during which Mr. Vidal said something shocking (as his his want) and instead of getting clarification you saw dollar signs and shifted gears to make the article about the shocking comment. How totally FOX of you. Now, I read that statement over and over, and even with the spare context you provided could not discern what was meant by it. I know what you wanted me to think but I still didn’t get that. I don’t know who you are, but Gore Vidal has been a lifelong inspiration. I truly hope your populist demogogary consigns you to obsurity.

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By tomack, November 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

P.S.

Get a grip, people, it’s a blog. Show some restraint, some taste, and some courtesy.

(thanks, Mick)

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By tomack, November 17, 2008 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

I look forward to the retort-tort-tort.

“Now, boys, let’s keep it clean. No rabbit punches, biting, kicking, or sneaky elbows. Let’s keep the clinches to a minimum and of short duration. First man to pull a knife will be disqualified. Now go to your corners at at the sound of the bell come out writing.”

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By KDelphi, November 17, 2008 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

I have never been able to figure out how “violence” can be committed over teh internet…things people online may LEAD to it—thetn, it is against the law. Amd, so are open threats.

arius—I suppose I am too late to answer this. Sorry—had to reinstall a bunch of stuff.. I still submit that , relatively speaking, few are killed by racsit hate grups, or sexist hate groups etc, as compared, to , say, die from a lack of heatlh care or warm housing.

I meant that many a child’s (or adult’s) dream has been killed by the threat of subtle racism, vs overt racism.It is very insidious.

knowbuddhau—I may get your name wrong—I just have trouble with it. You can get mine wrong—I dont care. Its not my “real name”...ok? So, you would ban South Park (which is done by adults). I dont like alot of it either. So I dont usually watch.(word to the wise!)

I have been “hated on” alot of thie site. But I have not been “shouted down”. People, we really have to watch what we are diong to our rights with this censorship stuff.Just truly think about it…

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By nikto, November 17, 2008 at 10:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore may see Obama, rightly or wrongly, as a “slave” to US Imperial & Moneyed interests who will be hard-pressed to alter the current self-destructive (but profitable to the Elites) path of the Nation.

Hopefully, Obama (and we, his supporters) will prove that meme wrong.

It really sounds like Vidal has given up on the republic, and is jusy depressed about it, and perhaps even regressing a bit philosophically.

Or not?

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By Folktruther, November 17, 2008 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

I agree, Paracelsus.  Good distinction.

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By Paracelsus, November 16, 2008 at 11:08 pm Link to this comment

Why do the moderators allow egregious violations?

I petition the moderators of this list for your removal.

You, Folktruther, are bullying OUR shared awareness of Being this right here: OUR shared Becoming.

How is this right here happening?  How is it that these words, which I author right now, although never being spoken, nevertheless you hear them within you right now?

All you do is attack our interlocutors.  Again, I petition the list moderators for your removal.

Folktruther is a bully.  Why do the list moderators tolerate specious ad hominem attacks of this sort?


Ad hominem attacks are part of political discourse to some extent. But I feel differently about libel and defamation. If one TD poster accused another TD poster of being a pedophile without a shred of evidence then I would say that veers into defamation. Also a long studied psychoanalysis meant to portray a TD member as mentally ill veers into libel as opposed to a short rejoinder calling some crazy or “You’re nuts!” which would be ad hominem and slimy but not libel. At least that is how I feel about it. But I can only pray for the good judgments of TD staff.

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By Lipschitz, November 16, 2008 at 10:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I was far more dimayed to hear how fauning Mr. Vidal was of imperialist, authoritarian values than his absurdly pathetic “racial” remarks. Helots? Adoration of megalomaniacs such as McArthur? Longing for the good Ol’ days of Imperial Rome? Senile and delusional; it’s truly sad but Gore Vidal has lost it completely!

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By knowbuddhau, November 16, 2008 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment

Oh please!  Call me by my true name:  sound of a lightsaber dancing

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By Dwight, November 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The HuffPost version sounds worse.  Gumbel is backing off.  So why believe either version?

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By Folktruther, November 16, 2008 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Kati, you’re right, Vidal is classist, but more subtlely than you depict.  He was after all born into the unpper class and has never wanted to declass himself.  But within that restricted Elitism, which, granted, is reprehensible, he has played an honerable role.  I have read much of his work, as have other commentators, and there is no grounds whatever for cosidering him racist.  And he has made many contributions to destroying the power delusions of the American mainstream ideology.

KnowBuddau, I had no idea of your close relation to Oki Knobi.  I assure that I am as impressed as all the other TD truthers.  You certainly have an exicing time over there at Huffpo.

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By Kati, November 16, 2008 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am disappointed by the direction this thread has taken.  There is ground for wondering if Vidal’s comment was racist but there is certainly no doubt that it was classist.  Like racism, classism attributes inferior intellectual and moral characteristics to lower class individuals (for instance the claim contradicting all evidence that lower class people don’t know how to create poetry) It also attributes different physiological characteristics to members of different classes:  lower class individuals are supposed to look “cruder” and “uglier” than upper class (elite) individuals. Classism, like racism, calls upon imaginary socially constructed notions of physiological difference, and it is possible that in that sense classism and racism feed on each other. Classism is alive and well in the US and, in spite of its similarity to racism, it does transcends “race” and ethnicity. 

In addition to the many books on the topics in the US (including of course Howard Zin’s works) I would highly recommend the works of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu on the internalization of a body consciousness, of a physical stance imagined to belong to a specific class.

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By ron davison, November 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Rather than an either or censorship rule.

I propose a new approach to moderating that is a compromise of sorts.

Attach a link to a censored comment for those so inclined to fetch them.

I for one do not wish to read comments from angry people that use vial, demeaning, and in the end up as a form of censoring itself as it disheartens many from contributing. This many times turns into a form of bullying for most, left on the playground of youth.

On the other hand I do not wish to take away anybodies voice either. Because this only leads to more anger that decomposes and turns into hate, fear and other negative behavior left unchecked, even violence.

So people need to vent even if they are wrong.

Many times after venting one will review ones comments or words, becomes astonished at what they thought only others do and reflects on where this came from and makes adjustments to ones belief system and incoming and outgoing filter systems.

So here is my idea,

when the moderator feels that something should be censored, inject a link to the comment for those that wish to follow that line of thought.

List the reason why it was censored for both other readers and for the author. Many posteres are newbies and will learn to moderate their posts by the reason given for the censorship.
(Lets call it semi-censorship)
Those intent on bulling, corrupting, disrupting those that wish to carry on a civil, thoughtful, intellectual discourse will be discouraged by the “semi-censorship” filtering that most of us wish.

If these people still are angry about the semi-censorship the can start there own blog and make up their own rules on moderating what is posted.

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By jude moriarty, November 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We can all breath a sigh of relief that this guy Gumbel doesn’t aspire to to walk in Vidal’s footsteps. Some people yearn to met a movie star/ others long for the superficial nonsense of a Disney World escape/ Me I always wanted to meet Gore Vidal - one of the FEW people not enslaved by the dictates of ridiculous Politically Correct nonsense/ which would have put Mark Twain on the ash pile/ Even he had (to honor his family’s wishes) to wait until his death to have his War Prayer published, least it offend! It appears to me that (yawn) Gumbel making a mountain out of a mole hill will garner few avid followers (like Gore). Gumbel / what a waste of WORDS and opportunity in his tirade! A clone of our boy Winston in 1984 / sanitizing the ‘news’. Little wonder people are giving up on reading !!

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By The Observer, November 16, 2008 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”

Vidal tends to be quick tongued and is getting up there in age and may have wished he had not said it in hindsight. Old learned or merely heard racist thoughts and phrases from youth that we may have overcome for the most part are still ingrained in the deep memory. When age starts taking its toll the layers of intellect begin to brake down and deep reactionary thoughts can bubble up and bust through ones carefully crafted mind-works of an adult lifetime.

I hope he clarifies his comment if he did make it.

What if Vidal had used the word “had” instead of “have”?

SusanSunflowers comments are right on mark here.

We all use the tools and gifts we have within the environment that we find ourselves in.
This is true of us all. And these tools and gifts we obtain from our environment.
If we are lucky enough to have a loving and nurturing environment given us (by parents or others)
Whether it was for are whole youth or just a part of it we are truly lucky. (I wonder if those of us that had it our whole youth have the disability of not understanding the true gift it was and is, because difficult times make it so obvious that they were total gifts.)

If these tools and gifts are passed from generation to generation it is not surprising that the modern black culture has this gift and tool within it.

The racist thing about the comment is not so much that it has any bases in truth or not but in the fact that it is presented as a negative and implies a limit to it.

Imagine if slavery was still present today. ( I will resist starting into the new topic of whether it is or is not for any of us…10 to 30 trillion dollars…ok ok stop, stop)

back to topic

If we had slavery today and we gave these slaves i-phones and/or mp3 players so that they could listen to lectures while working, (picture those people spinning signs on street corners trying to entice anyone to go look at a new home!) don’t you think they might just turn out different? couple that with a right to a few hours of schooling and testing to hone their intellect would they not have narrowed the intellect gap, if not pass the rest of us(?) up? (Hard work has a remarkable way of motivating the intellect!)

With that said I don’t remember Obama stumping with rap, hip-hop, or break-dancing on stage during the campaign.

All I can remember was articulated speech and a message of hope and change. (Even if I was angry that details of change were not spelled out, I understood why when i thought about it, it would have only armed the opponents.)

Many have been in a state of doom and despair for 4 if not 8 years as we have seen our countries 200 + years of good will evaporate at home and abroad.

and having no hope leaves one in chains and takes time to shed and trust again. It is quit easy to believe that a change of a few at the top will fix anything.

We voted for change and hope.

Water your hope.

It needs daily care and feeding to grow again through the thicket of fear, doom, and despair that the last 4 to 8 years has grown around each of us.

Peace out
The Observer

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By Alan, November 16, 2008 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ringworm Magazine
17 Nov. 2008
Exclusive

Rapallo, Italia.

Gore Vidal in retreat at Rapallo today
announced that his upcoming bout against
the Palin-Harding tag team will be moved to
the Colosseum in Rome.  Vidal, interviewed
by the RAI said: Io penso che…Io penso che…
well anyway, the match will be held at Rome
where my grandfather, Gore The Elder once
drank a beer.

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By knowbuddhau, November 16, 2008 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By Inherit The Wind, November 15 at 8:22 pm #

This is Folk’s most serious problem: He doesn’t know how to differ between a determined opponent and an enemy. I think if Folk saw me as a determined opponent who doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up and always gives his best effort, rather than an enemy, I’d like him, too.

But seeing someone with different opposing ideas as an enemy is fundamentally anti-American—whether it comes from the Right or the Left.  Friends with opposite views are an asset.  They keep you humble, they keep you sharp, they keep you thinking, and they don’t let you get away with $#!t. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I’m sorry that it has taken me all this time to reply to your fulsome rejoinder.

That’s it in a nutshell!  How very Bushesque of Folktruther, right down to doing violence even to my name.

I’m heartened to see your new approach, Folktruther.

PatrickHenry tells me, “Quit whining,” and orders me to “run tell the moderator.”  Yours is not an attack on my person, just an empty cliché, followed by an effort to compel me to follow your orders.  Good luck with that, I’ve been bossed at before.  Sith mind tricks have no effect on Jedi.

8 years ago, I experienced a complete and successful online mondo (Japanese: question-answer) with the very same London-based Tibetan Buddhist, Stephen Hodge, whom Alec Guinness used as his role model for OB1 Kenobi.

Now, what kind of fool would challenge OB1 to a duel?  A fool completely unaware!  As Blake said, a fool who persists in his folly may eventually become wise.  Good luck with that.

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By apolloguide, November 16, 2008 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the comment required explication why didn’t you, Mr. Gumbel, request for clarification instead of going to press with your confusion?  I can only reason from your rejoinder that you decided to keep the comment out of context so that you could make issue from it.  Gore’s remark is dripping with sarcasm.  An earlier Bill Buckley might have understood this but as his reincarnation you appear unable to do the same. 
You say that you were:

“deeply troubled about where this thought had come from.”

The next time you are not sure what you heard you need to clarify by asking another few questions, and not by rushing a publicly tarnishing hit piece on a great American author which your article attempts to do, to print. You proceed to suggest that Gore Vidal is out of touch and and nothing more than an idle rich man of the Jack Tanner class of 1896.

and then this line:
“Vidal’s reactionary bile is part of a clear historical pattern that has, at different times, condoned the slavery he alludes to; espoused open prejudice against immigrants, Catholics, Jews, and the industrial working class; and embraced the notion that democracy is somehow too precious to be entrusted to more than a small fraction of the people governed.” As an immigrant Catholic Jack Kennedy would certainly dispute your characterization of Vidal.

Could it be that Gore Vidal is also responsible for global warming? Or could it be that you Mr. Gumbel are no Bill Buckley?

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By Folktruther, November 16, 2008 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think this thread is ridiculous, Beerdoctor, I think it serves a very useful purpose.  It helps change the American political consensus is a progressive direction.

Truthers like Vidal are constanly sleazed in the mass media not only by rightwingers, but by sleazoids pretending to be Progressive.  9/11 truthers for example are called paranoid for presenting evidence and reasoning that indicate that it was a false flag operation.  What Michael Parenti called DIRTY TRUTHS.  Which are often characterized as conspiracy theories and therefore crazy, since the mainstream assumption is that there are no power conspiracies by authorized power.

What this does is intimidate the Amerian population from having political, religious, or any opinions at all that deviate from the mainstream truth.  That is why I like Inherit.  He is a intellectual primitive who has opinions on lots of things and has the courage to express them.  They are often dumb, true, and some are evil; but I respect the basic impulse of sincerely expressing what you believe even if it is ideologically deviant.  And this needs to be inculcated in the American population.  Say what you think and take your lumps if it is wrong.

So its good to have someone from Fluffpo, as KDelphi calls it, like Knowsy, trying to get people banned from TD.  Becuase this is what happens in the real world; indeed Sepharad has a job precisely to respond to anti-Zionist comments in the mass media.  So a presimetricians like Knowsy serves as a good embodiement of the kind of censorship that we all find in the mass media.

And truthers like Fareignheit, Patrik Henry, KDelphi, Writer in the Storm,etc responded as you would expect and desire.  Because our ideological worldviews are undergoing an historical change and we have to include deviant truths that are ideologically repressed in the American mainstream truth.  And it is the function of truthers like Knowsy’s, and Gumbel’s, kind of person to repress.  He strikes me as the kind of person in school who always had his homework done and would never let you copy.

But he isn’t important for what he says, but what he provokes others to say.  And so he serves a useful purpose.  As well, of course, as a prosimetric mythioal poetic one.

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By PatrickHenry, November 16, 2008 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

By knowbuddhau, November 16 at 8:54 am #

Quit whining.

Run tell that to the moderator.

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By knowbuddhau, November 16, 2008 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Bravo, SusanSunflower!  Well said.  I bow in your virtual direction.

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By knowbuddhau, November 16, 2008 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

@Folktruther
“I’ve already wasted too much time. “

Yes you have, of all of us.  If you want to indulge in South Park dialogue, which I enjoy, do it between you and willing others.  You can’t even be bothered to use my true name.  Again, your actions are Bushesque.

KDelphi:  moderation isn’t censorship, it’s the responsibility of a host to ensure equal access to this right here, our Commons; TD put up this space, they have an obligation to moderate.  No libel, no slander, no personal attacks.  That’s basic civility.  Adults manage self-discipline.  We don’t soil our selves, right?  We use the facilities.  Adults don’t need to be told not to soil the Commons.

Is all editing censorship?  Keeping it civil is the responsibility we all share.

F seems to think it’s clever to insult, abuse, and degrade us.  F’s style is that of an intellectual bully: substituting force and threats for persuasion. As has been noted,it discourages participation.  That’s a taking from the discourse, not a giving to it.

I am clever enough to write in a way that gets posted, even when moderated; subversion is the very essence of poetics.  I have a very high regard for these, my words; and an equal regard for the words I read from others.  We express—and reveal—our regard for our neighbors in the words we share.

Our intentions materialize our realities; my intentions are materializing these words.  Contempt and disdain, and their vessels: veiled threats and specious ad hominems; have real effects.  The weapons-grade propaganda which conveyed the intentions of the McCain/Palin campaign realized the threats against Obama we all heard. A huge number of our fellow citizens took the hate to heart.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-mitchell/racial-incidents-and-thre_b_144061.html?show_comment_id=18024239#comment_18024239
“Since election day, the number of threats against the president-elect, and racial or violent incidents directed at his supporters, have soared. The Secret Service is concerned, calling it the highest number of threats against a President-elect in memory, but the national media until this weekend have largely ignored the disturbing pattern. So a few days ago, over at the Editor & Publisher site, we started chronicling the incidents, which has drawn wide attention (so we will continue, though we hope the problem subsides).

“Some claim that, given the size of this great country of ours, the incidents don’t amount to much or are merely anecdotal. I would argue: The ones we know about may represent only the tip of the iceberg—the ones that make it into the local press. And, yes, they may die down as the country gets used to the idea of a President Obama. On the other hand: They could soar again as that reality nears” [End Mitchell]

Even Hillary Clinton demonstrated the same principle at work during her shameful primary campaign: racist and Christianist fear-mongering is the Established method for manufacturing consent to reign (as opposed to govern) over us, the sovereign citizens.

Gumbel’s hit piece, and his inadequate rejoinder, can lead directly to attacks on Vidal’s person.  Propagandists bear responsibility for the actions realized by the intentions with which they fill their words.  Repetition of terms of violent degradation is a psychological attack that sows the seeds of physical attacks on persons.

Ideas, and the vessels with which we convey them, have consequences.

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By Doug Tarnopol, November 16, 2008 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

At worst, Vidal made a nasty faux pas. If Gumbel or anyone else would like to find Vidal’s “true self” in that comment, they are welcome to it.

Vidal will die soon, but his words, and completely non-racist vision of the world, will shine on for ages while Gumbel’s….?

It’s not too classy to use a visibly ailing somewhat-mentor for a generational-attack “thinkpiece.” If Gumbel knows Vidal and his works, he must know he’s at best caricaturing Vidal. If Gumbel reaches 83 with a shattered hip and equally shattered hopes for his country, let’s see how politically correct he will be. Or if anyone will care.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 16, 2008 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

re: John Crandell

Thank you for the very useful link on this otherwise ridiculous thread.

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By SusanSunflower, November 16, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

The observation that the poetry of slave traditions is oral and often set to a work rhythm is not original ... it does not mean that slaves were incapable of writing poetry, but that the reality of being a slave (illiteracy, being worked to death from dawn to dusk and other brutalities) created limited the historical record. This is not limited to the American slave tradition. There are other cultures whose historical record is obscure, who left “no poetry” and “no literature” because there is no record ... it does not mean that there was no storytelling, poetry, etc. just that it was ephemeral, oral tradition.

I’m not sure what Vidal was referring to… it would have been good to ask before jumping on this statement as “proof” of something as damning as racism.

My impression was that he is perhaps less impressed by Obama’s oratory than some—hence his reference to other speeches and speakers. Obama is exceptional. Obama is selling what we want to hear. He sells exceptionalism—his own and American exceptionalism. I think the greater test of his oratorical skills will be when he has to sell us what we do not want to hear, and I fear there is a lot of that ahead.

Again, while I may be wrong in interpreting Vidal’s meaning, having read many comments here, I don’t see racism in the statement.

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By Terry Thomas, November 16, 2008 at 4:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It took this idiot 3,500 words to describe that sentence. The simple explanation was that Obama is on the same cooperate lobby payroll as almost all the so called poetic politicians whether they have a southern rhythmical beat or not.

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By writeon, November 16, 2008 at 4:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal has a style in both his prose and in conversation, interviews. He’s arch. He teases, spits and roasts, lashes his enemies, those he considers incompetent and fools, the hypocrites, the powerful. He’s modelled himself and created the persona of a Roman, Republican, patrician, which is what he is in reality I suppose. He’s an American aristocrat.

Is he a racist though? Looking at his body of work and his public pronouncements, it’s difficult to find, if not impossible, evidence to support such an accusation.

He is ‘elitist’ though. He’s a member of an elite - a very successful and influential writer and novelist. He isn’t an ‘ordinary’ person. He has special qualities and abilities. He uses sarcasm, humour, irony in his work. These things are notoriously difficult to convey on the written page.

Writers don’t use language the way most other people do in everyday life and convesation, that’s why they are writers and most other people are not.

Isn’t this a classic example of taking a couple of sentences out of context and blowing them totally out of proportion? Will Vidal really come to regret using the words ‘Unless it’s got a beat’ for the rest of his life?

Obviously Obama isn’t a slave. Slavery no longer exists in the United States, or does it. What about ‘wage slavery’? I often think that millions of us are ‘slaves’ to the system, people of all races and colours. But I’m using the concept loosely and in the context of class, not race. In ancient Rome and Greece slavery had nothing to do with race, the colour of one’s skin had no significance. Though good, smooth, skin, was valued in houseslaves.

Is this simply an attempt at character assassination, something which Chomskey has recently been subject to in a British newspaper under similar circumstances? A journalist can make a name for themselves by pulling an icon down from their pedastal, no?

I’m not sure that Vidal’s words are so obviously racist, even if he really said them. He didn’t say that slaves couldn’t make poetry because they were slaves, only that they had difficulty making it. Of course this hindges on what one means by ‘poetry’. Slaves did make wonderful poetry, in my opinion, poetry that went into the Blues and Jazz and Folk and Rock ‘n’ Roll. Vidal isn’t particularly keen on a lot of this kind of stuff. Famously he has dissed Bob Dylan’s ‘poetry’ as country, hillbilly, stuff. Does this make him anit-semetic too?

Vidal loves attacking people, so did Swift and other great satirists. But he rarely attacks those who are weaker than he is. This would be under him. He always aims his barbs upward towards targets he deems worthy.

Personally I’m not a great fan of Obama’s rhetorical sytle at all. It’s not to my taste. I think he does big, set-piece, speeches quite well, but then I’ve heard it all before, and can do that kind of stuff in my sleep. On a smaller scale; in debates and in interviews, he’s far less impressive, in my opinion. He flip-flops, he waffles, he not on the point, he’s defuse; I don’t really remember much of what he says, or more importantly means. He’s not concrete. He gives the impression of saying more than he really does. But compare to Bush or McCain, he’s a master orator, so maybe his actual politics don’t matter so much?

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By naztnate, November 16, 2008 at 3:22 am Link to this comment

The quote plays on Jim Crow era stereotypes to be sure.  Hard to know what to make of it though.  Definitley in bad taste at the very least.

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By writeon, November 16, 2008 at 3:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In conversation about 80% of the information we communicate to one another is non-verbal. Our bodies are involved; our eyes, our tone of voice etc. It’s highly complex and extremely subtle.

On the page words are only a very primative analogue, striving to replicate something that’s impossible to replicate accurately, human intereation. It’s really easy to create misunderstandings.

Forcing reality into a few signs on a page is really difficult to do well, and I should know!

Writers, like humourists are often tempted to go for the pithy, one-liner, that one just can’t resist using, even though one risks treading on someone’s toes. Using language creatively is about pressing it up to the limit and then deliberately going over that limit. It’s a temptation, it’s a gift, it can often be a curse. I had a theory that it was better to fling out nine ideas that were rubbish, if it meant that one of them had a chance of being brilliant! I’ve reined myself in since then, I think!

This entire question about ‘race’ and ‘racism’ is incredibly complex. Who decides what and who is allowed to use ‘racially-charged’ words and phrases?

Am I allowed, is it acceptable, to call Bill Clinton an ‘Uncle Tom’? Uncle Tom is a ficitonal character in a book, after all. If I used it about Obama, would it be worse? What about Hilary Clinton or Condi Rice or Colin Powell? Clearly I would be insulting them personally, but would it be racist? Can one call a woman ‘Uncle Tom’? Is that sexist?

I’ve talked to plenty of Black radicals over the years who’ve used the term ‘Uncle Tom’ to describe Black politicians and others, who they think have sold out to the Whiteman. Where they being racists? When one’s been around these people long enough, it’s easy to start using these terms too. Yet I didn’t because I’m White and I didn’t think it was appropriate. I censored myself.

‘House slave’ was another expression I heard a lot. I had a lot of sympathy with this concept, and I still do to some extent, but I find it difficult to use it myself. It just doesn’t feel right somehow.

What about ‘nigger’? This word has undrgone an incredible transformation over the decades. What does it mean and signify today? Who is allowed to use it and in what context? It’s very contraversial. When Black kids use it can they be accused of being racist? I don’t think so. What about me?

Only a few weeks ago I bumped into a Black kid I know and he greeted me with a friendly, ‘Hi, how ya doin’ Nigga?’ I was slightly taken aback by this. Had I been accepted as ‘Nigga’ or was this just his way of speaking? Did it have any significance at all? Was it racist? Is it problematic for me to even talk about this and use these explosive words in a context like this? I’m confused.

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By System36, November 16, 2008 at 2:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

HAHHAHAHAH this is so amusing!!!

Gorn: I assume what he was trying to suggest is that Obama, like all modern politicians, is a slave to special interests, and thus his flowery oratory figuratively is merely a rap to the beat defined by his benefactors.

SusanSunFlower: Sorry, I don’t see that as racist ... think chain gangs, think galley slaves at the oars ... and at the end of their working day, they eat and sleep ... race has nothing to do with it, imho.

BrandonSteele: Vidal called both Truman and Obama a slave, and then concluded that Vidal was being racist when he referenced Obama.  His huge assumption (and the glaring hole in his argument) is that Vidal meant Obama to be a different kind of slave than Truman - a slave in the actual sense of working on a plantation, whereas Truman was just a slave in the philosophical sense.  Gumbel then goes on to say that Vidal clearly meant the Obama statement as racist, but offers us not proof other than two premises (i.e. Truman = Slave and Obama = Slave) that contradict his conclusion.


Whats next guys?
“Oh…what Vidal meant by “beat” was the iambic pentameter. Of course its hard for slaves to make poetry without a beat, they’re only familiar with old school sonnets. Postmodernists like Vidal don’t need the meter/rhythm/beat, they free verse.”

How low are you guys willing to go?

You can analyze the sentence and Gumbel’s article all you want. Break down each particle.
Hell, while you’re at it, why don’t you look into each word’s etymology?!!!

Don’t be pathetic.

Just because he’s old, written 20 books, shares and has influenced your views, doesn’t mean he gets a pass for saying stupid shit like that.

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By Netizen, November 16, 2008 at 12:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s your word against his.  I believe him.

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By Wayno, November 16, 2008 at 12:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Vidal may have been referring to the pattois with which Obama delivers his more stirring speeches. In that case, it is truly a phenomenon of the
Black church, unlike the staid oratory which would hold much more interest of an 83 (?) year old man with a decidedly literary bent.
Great historical presidential oratory seldom encouraged audience participation.
An archaic attribution, admittedly clumsily applied and truly unfortunate, in and of itself should not label a cherished traditionalist “racist.”
Is Gore? I dunno.
But I feel Mr Gumbel was too occupied rushing his scoop to deadline to explore the fine points.
I don’t like racism, but I’m not so sure I like Mr Gumbel either.

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By Arius, November 15, 2008 at 11:44 pm Link to this comment

By KDelphi, November 15 at 9:56 pm #

I have to agree with easmachine that, it is the more “subtle” racism that in the end, is the most harmful.

Sorry but that’s a crock

Very few people are killed by violent racist gangs,

Guess you haven’t checked out the news coming out of Long Island lately, have you…

but many a person’s dreams are killed by teh “chilling effect” of implied political correctness.

all due respect, but what a load of hogwash.. if someone’s “dreams” are “killed” by this perceived “chilling effect” then they are likely losers with too thin a skin to make it in this world and a professional life long victim looking for something to whine about..

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By Arius, November 15, 2008 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

”...being a Zionist racist yourself who has to cover up with deceit the horrors that apartheid Israel is inflicting on the Palestinian people,...”

LOL, getting a lil off topic with your hardened bias on that topic, aren’t you?

jesus!

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 10:56 pm Link to this comment

I have to agree with easmachine that, it is the more “subtle” racism that in the end, is the most harmful. Very few people are killed by violent racist gangs, but many a person’s dreams are killed by teh “chilling effect” of implied political correctness.

I think that people know when others are being patronizing.

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

knowbuddhau—did i spell that right? Look, if you are accoustomed to Fluffpo , I can see why you would be calling for “moderation”.

Now, there was some snuff/police blotter stuff on another site I go to occasonally. I mean, it would gag a maggott.You could not block the images. People were fleeing it. So, the moderator took it down.That was a case where I could understand it.Here is why:

It 1) served no discourse 2)posited no points and 3)was obviously put there by a peson who would not reveal themselves and was spamming.

Everyone here who is registered is known to the moderator. Some people here have been banned from other sites.YOu may think something is “juvenile” or “out of line”—-but that is neither here nor there, as far as censorship goes..

You seem to be calling for political correctness. What if someone wanted to censor your poetry? Maybe some find religious references offensive.

If you want anything anyone could cal a “crude remark” banned—go to CommonDreams or FluffPO. They will accomodate you there.

I would think a poet would know an epigram when he/she sees one.

The chilling effect on most neo-liberal sites is very clear.Id you want to get a bellyfeel from newspeak—try DailyKos. It is like watching MSNBC or FOX__everyone agrees and it is “soothing”. But it is stupid.


I do not like everything I see or read here—or anywhere else. If the alternative is the type of censorhsip I have seen elsewhere—I’ll scroll past things I dont like.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment

There’s no bullying inovolved, Knowsy.  Inherit and I have been insulting each other for months, and neither of us can be bullied.  I don’t like bullying either and refrain from comment, at least from vigorous comment, when some inane remarks from commenters that appear fragile.
******************************************

Very true. I will, here, refrain from commenting on the other qualities of your remarks.

******************************************
Inherit is wrong, he is racist, he is obtuse, but he is not fragile.
******************************************
“wrong”: Occasionally.  I find you wrong constantly.
“racist”: False. Not possible. My child would live in fear of me.  He doesn’t. He’s bold and brave and bright and fun.
“obtuse”: Definition—does not agree with Folk.  By that definition and that definition only, true.  Obtuse usually means cannot absorb facts and logic.  Folk falls into that category most of the time.
“not fragile”:  True.  Folk is certainly not fragile either.

*******************************************
I like him.
*******************************************

I have no idea why, but I’ll try to accept that graciously.  But honesty deserves honesty. Honestly, other than this post, I’m not too fond of Folk.

********************************************
INherit makes a good enemy.  And enemies are much more important than friends for political thinking, Knowbuddhau.
********************************************

This is Folk’s most serious problem: He doesn’t know how to differ between a determined opponent and an enemy. I think if Folk saw me as a determined opponent who doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up and always gives his best effort, rather than an enemy, I’d like him, too.

But seeing someone with different opposing ideas as an enemy is fundamentally anti-American—whether it comes from the Right or the Left.  Friends with opposite views are an asset.  They keep you humble, they keep you sharp, they keep you thinking,  and they don’t let you get away with $#!t. 

I think Folk and I could have more productive debates if he could see me that way.

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By CJ, November 15, 2008 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

Seriously. Does anyone really believe Vidal is a racist, never mind reactionary? Gumbel writes of how Vidal’s piece is “one long torrent of invective.” (Really? I thought Vidal’s retort more bitingly witty than mere invective. But then that’s what is really at issue.)

As opposed to…shorter invective on the part of Gumbel to begin with?

Gumbel, as cited by Vidal: “Vidal, like many of his generation and social standing, clearly cannot fathom how the son of a single mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father could presume to occupy the Oval Office. And while [Vidal] expressed his distaste with an extraordinary degree of frankness, not to mention racial venom, [Vidal] is far from the only one.” (Whoops, Vidal forgot to smile, I gather. And one wonders who else Gumbel has in mind. Not really.)

Congratulations, Gore, on “extraordinary degree of frankness.”

But Gumbel claims he regards Vidal as, “spectacular prose stylist whose contrarian, irascible intelligence and wit jump out of every page.” (Letting go use of “out” as Gumbel preferred that to, say, OFF, “...of every page.” Not OUT, but OFF, Mr. Gumbel. Pages are two-dimensional planes, literally. No in and out, only on and off.)

Except that Vidal, according to Gumbel, must not be all THAT intelligent if–again according to Gumbel–he’s not even capable of fathoming “how the son…could presume to occupy the Oval Office.”

Note Gumbel’s employment of the term, “presume.” Gumbel’s term, as he’s the one engaged in presumption; viz., of Vidal’s meaning.

Vidal is a good deal more intelligent than Gumbel has the remotest wit to recognize. (Really venomous are Gumbel’s remarks re how “kind” Vidal has been to him. Good! Delighted to hear that. But then why, Mr. Gumbel? Let’s speculate, likely rightly:)

Vidal in his piece: “Mr. Gumbel, I am told, is a British journalist who, like so many before him, has immersed himself in our native tabloid culture, having been well-seasoned in the British variety. (Shudder!) Not since Jonathan Swift have we heard such a voice out of those foggy islands.”

Indeed, not “since Jonathan Swift,” biting satirist-ironist. Does anyone think Vidal actually means Gumbel? If so, Gumbel is your kin.

Gumbel, once again citing Vidal: “Slaves have a hard time making poetry, unless it’s got a beat.”

Absolutely appeal to “tabloid culture”! So moronic (and yes, amnesiac)  have so many of us become–here, there, everywhere round the world.

Intelligence and wit Gumbel claims so to admire in Vidal are hardly allowed anymore, not least by likes of Gumbel himself.

Look out ye of intelligence and wit lest ye be dragged through the mud by new and improved Jonathan Swifts, Gumbel being “far from the only one.”

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By easmachine, November 15, 2008 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve long been an admirer of Vidal’s. I enjoy his straightforwardness and his disdain for convention. I would like to mention that I’m black, for no other reason than to let you know that I am more than a little sensitive to racist thought, word and action.

Vidal’s allusion to slavery is a bit of a stretch, but it is reasonable considering his penchant for launching verbal grenades and far from the most controversial statement chronicled. It is not however racist. In fact, it says more about society than it does about Vidal’s membership in it that the word slave is automatically seen as a slur against a man of color. Slavery is a human condition without color or nationality. The word Slave has “Slav” at it’s root. WHo hears “Slave” and thinks of Eastern Europeans? Indeed, Obama has ZERO genetic ties to America from a slave’s point of view(unlike me whose ancestors include Many black Slaves, a white plantation overseer and a red man who refused to follow trail of tears)

As a true believer in Freedom of Speech I have to protest the tendency to label so many things as racist. The real mainstream racists use words like “liberal” and “communist”(which they also called MLK) and imply racist thought without mouthing the words. I “got” Sarah Palin. But, she never said an ugly word.

Hey White folk, I truly appreciate you getting post-racial and being watchdogs for bigotry. But let’s not go overboard and become a new Speech Gestapo. I can stand the N word as long as I can speak MY mind without limitations.

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By Fahrenheit 451, November 15, 2008 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

> By knowbuddhau, November 15 at 7:14 pm;

People (some) blogging anonymously act/say things they would never say face to face.  TD tried to control it before and ended up censoring some long term posters many of whom were valued commenters.  Censorship is never justified.  As a result many have left never to return.  I suggest you get a thicker skin (so to speak) and only deal with intelligence and wit.  There are good posters here but less than before.  Pity.

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By Folktruther, November 15, 2008 at 9:04 pm Link to this comment

Knowbuddhau, you glorious poetic substance.  I wasn’t aware I treated cann4ing any different from anyone else. I try to insult everyone equally. He is, in any case, a knowledgeable liberal with a defined thought-out position.  Which I oppose.  But at least he lays off the mystico-poetics.

My reference to a his pipe dreams going up in mushroom clouds, Knowsy, was a joke.  A JOKE,Knowsy!  If you aren’t going to laugh ant my jokes, or even understand them, you go too far.  I don’t mind Huffpo sending over fake progressives, and even their trying to kick out Responsible and Earnest TDtruthers like myself, but I can’t abide a bad respondant, no,not even if he were Colerage himself.  Lighten up, Knowsy, I’ve already wasted too much time.

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By Alan, November 15, 2008 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ringworm Magazine.
16 Nov. 2008
Exclusive.

The upcoming Vidal vs. Palin-and-Harding tag team
match was shown in a new light tonight when
Sarah Palin denied having anything to do with
an invasion of errant moose into Gore Vidal’s
Hollywood Home.  “I don’t even know where Hollywood
actually is” Palin said while alternately defending
her team-mate, Tonya Harding, against charges of
attempted sandbagging.  Vidal, in an exclusive to
Ringworm Magazine, maintained that the plot was
an affront to his irrelevance.  Harding could
not be reached for comment, Howard Cossell demurred,
and Daryl Gates said that no former officers of the LAPD were involved. (ABC Sports says “stay tuned”).

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

Please pardon me once more, Mr. Gumbel.  I am not here to debate the meaning of debate itself, nor basic definitions of civility.

I am here to point to your bizarre and inadequate rejoinder.  You did nothing but assert your first claim:  “Gore Vidal said something shocking!”  So what’s new about that?

In his classic documentary with Ed Herman, Noam Chomsky points out this very reason for his not appearing on more nightly news shows:  to try to fit his critique into a soundbite is akin the the mystifying effect achieved by the pronouncements of Zen masters: they sound as if they’re coming from Mars.

Vidal said something hard to understand—again.  And I’m supposed to be surprised why?  Your truncation of the context only extends my deep suspicion of the whole affair.

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By George Ward, November 15, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore’s father came from working class upper praire folk. His mother the daughter of a Senator (big deal). Gore has mytholigized his origins beyond recognition! And I am a fan of his writings - so this is not partisan. Gore’s stepfather had the cash and aristocratic pretentions.

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

I have a brown child, yet I’m a racist.

Why?

Volksvehrer says so.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By WriterOnTheStorm, November 15 at 3:41 pm #

re: knowbuddhau

Folktruther and ITW have gone after each other before, this is nothing new. I find this latest round to be particularly amusing. If one reads TD with any regularity, it’s easy enough to pinpoint the political ballpark in which each play.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I’m not the first nor the only to note violations of common courtesy by Folktruther.  How hard is it to be civil?

That my neighbors might engage in violent and loud fights in public does in no way diminish the offense against the Common Weal.  Keep it to your selves, if you must.  I’d like to engage in discourse with others who are kept from participating by the vulgar words of Folktruther in particular.

Moderation of a debate is not censorship.  Administration of rules is not tyranny.  We are all abiding by the rules of written English, not Thai or Sanskrit, and yet we know to do so is not censorship. 

I am asking for some judicious administration of common rules of courtesy, or for Folktruther and friends to show enough self-restraint to keep crude remarks between themselves.

Crying ‘censorhip!’ or ‘tattletale!’ is juvenile.  Does the lowest common denominator control the Commons here?

Why can’t Truthdig assert some basic oversight of this, the cyberspace they are providning, without you accusing them of censorship, or Folktruther accusing me of snitching?  Barring pejorative personal attacks is in no way censorship; asserting the need for judicious moderation is not snitching.

Show some self-discipline by keeping your crass remarks to yourselves in private emails—is that too much to ask of adults?  It’s very common on other blogs, to expect crude remarks to be taken off-list.

Your defense would make some sense, if Folktruther’s charges had any merit; specious ad hominem attacks don’t deserve the server space.

Would you serve rotten food to a guest and offer a lame apology for the substandard fare, expecting that to make it all better?

How hard would it be to be civil?  Why should it take the assertion of rules to get you to show some self-restraint?

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By Klaus, November 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I agree that Obama is not a great orator, I would hesitate calling him an airhead until you’ve been offered a tenure-track position teaching in one of the best law departments in the country. I realize the internet is where failures comes to show off their delusions of superiority, but you… you’re trying to hard (and so is Mr. Vidal).

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment

Pardon me for repeating myself.

Gumbel conveniently ends his rejoinder with the very quote in question; that’s not only unconvincing, but alarming.

We all know of the loquaciousness of Mr. Vidal.  We all know of his aristocratic tone.  I hear the same tone in my friends from the Carolinas, it makes me want to reach over and touch some of them.  A patrician accent does not a racist make, especially not after such a long and storied career of exactly the opposite, such as Mr. Vidal may rightly claim.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence; your rejoinder remains woefully insufficient.

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 7:23 pm Link to this comment

@Folktruther

That’s ‘prosimetric mytho-poetic expression.’  If you can’t give my words fair hearing, I will have nothing further to say to you.

I repeat my petition to have you removed from this list—not for a slip of the tongue, not for a moment’s indiscretion, but for a pattern and practice of directing pejorative attacks at our interlocutors.  Your tone, towards me, is in stark contrast to your tone towards cann4ing, for example.

Address my initial question: your absurd reference to a mushroom cloud; what’s up with that?

What’s with the personal attacks?  Stink up your private emails, if you must.  You add nothing to the discussion but epithets and abuse directed at our persons, not our comments.  I’d like to engage a civil discussion without you stinking up the place.

I am not here to be your rhetorical punching bag; I will not stand silent while you abuse others with personal attacks.

Grow up, Folktruther, or get out.

Lastly, don’t pretend to familiarity you have not earned.  My name is knowbuddhau.  Please address me by my true name.

Play number games with me, and you might win; but only fools play word games with knowing Zen poets.  We don’t like it.

You won’t like it, either.

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By B, November 15, 2008 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The truth is what it is; Mr. Vidal is what he is; and you are what you are.  I know Mr. Vidal, but I don’t know you at all.  The truth?  Well, that is what you are trying to slant, isn’t it?  I believe Mr. Vidal.

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By Folktruther, November 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

By God, Knowbuddhau, you’re mighty touchy for a prestometric mytho-poetic Zen poet.  Me, violate our shared space of Being?  Heaven forfend!  Never.

There’s no bullying inovolved, Knowsy.  Inherit and I have been insulting each other for months, and neither of us can be bullied.  I don’t like bullying either and refrain from comment, at least from vigorous comment, when some inane remarks from commenters that appear fragile.  Inherit is wrong, he is racist, he is obtuse, but he is not fragile.
I like him.  This does not put him in a special category, I like most people.  Although, I have to tell you, Knowsy, I have doubts about people that report you to the teacher.

INherit makes a good enemy.  And enemies are much more important than friends for political thinking, Knowbuddhau.  I can see that this might not be the case in prestomaniacal poetry, even of the Zen variety,  but in political discourse, you have to have something, or someone, to lean against.

But be of good cheer.  The moderator warned me against vituperation against political ding-a-lings- I mention no names- and I sit and obey.  I’m ashamed that I got so carried away as to require admonition.  ashamed! knowbuddy.  It might have been the mytho-poetics that set me raving. 

Possibly a little Buddha would help.  Ommm,Ommm, yes, I feel better already.  Our shared space of Being appears to be purified by my listening to the Higher Vibrations.  I once had a girlfriend who listened to the Higher Vibrations, but not for very long.  She might well be a colleague of yours in the mytho-poetic racket.  Look for her; I’m sure you’d hit it off.

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

Writer—I agree. And knowbuddha—the alternative might be a censorship policy like some other sites.

I am not saying that I know either of them—I dont. But, there are touches of sarcasm and pokes, that people who know how both usually “speak” will understand as “nothing new” and, if either is truly offended—I would think that they would say so.

I do not want censorship here..

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By WriterOnTheStorm, November 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

re: knowbuddhau

Folktruther and ITW have gone after each other before, this is nothing new. I find this latest round to be particularly amusing. If one reads TD with any regularity, it’s easy enough to pinpoint the political ballpark in which each play. While one or both may occasionally offend some of us, it is often at that very moment that they reveal their true position, or expose the weaknesses in ours. Ad hominem rarely succeeds as a rhetorical tactic, TD readers are sharp enough to see through it. But sometimes it displays a remarkable wit, or betrays one’s best intentions. As such, it can be a useful window into a commentator’s deeper motivations - just look at the Vidal/Gumbel row for plenty of examples. Besides, I admire their willingness to get their hands dirty even while sharpening their own axes. They are both regular and worthy contributors to these pages.

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
By Folktruther, November 15 at 8:48 am #

Inherit, you ignorent lout.  It is understandable why you hate Gore Vidal, being a Zionist racist yourself who has to cover up with deceit the horrors that apartheid Israel is inflicting on the Palestinian people, while Vidal tells unspeakable truths that subvert Amereican, and Zionist, ideology.

Still, you would think that there would be a limit even to your vulgarity, and spare an 83 old man with an honorable lifetime record of opposing the National Security State your brand of filth.  Guess not.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why does Truthdig continue to violate rules against personal attacks by posting these specious ad hominem attacks?

What is added to our debate by these scurrilous personal attacks?  They are explicitly directed at our persons, not our comments or to a moderator; they violate every principle of civic discourse.

I am not here to be anyone’s punching bag.  Nor am I here to witness bullying without opposition.

I petition for the removal of Folktruther. 

The “report this” link is there for a reason, friends!  Use it already.

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By Alan, November 15, 2008 at 4:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ringworm Magazine.
16 Nov. 08

Gore Vidal will fight a tag team manned by
Sarah Palin and Tonya Harding on New Year’s Eve.
Vidal said: “I’ll lick both of them!”

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm Link to this comment

lichen—I am going to go with what he/she says. With Nader and Vidal.Why? Because I do not have access to the original transcript, and, I have read more of Vidal than of Gumbel. Of which I have read nothing. It is probably taken out of context.

If someone like Vidal says something like this, the interviewer shoudl be obligated to ask him to clarify—unless he is just looking for a headline.

YOu want to know the truth? I dont think it matters much.I doubt it wil go anywhere in court.

And, people jumped on Nader for saying the same thing Jesse Jackson had, I think, in an even less “elegant” way.

Unless someone would prefer I go into my beliefs again. Didnt think so. I have to go fix this fricking things again.

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By lichen, November 15, 2008 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, whatever, I side with Gore Vidal, and with Ralph Nader against their ignorant accusers.  This seems to be the season for making false accusations of racist language, while the real plight of minorities is completely swept aside, as Obama has nothing for them, and will let the poor African Americans die in the ghettos.  So let’s please not throw away the entire history of some people to harp on some ambiguous phrase that when taken out of context and stripped of the explanation and history of the speaker can be construed in an unsympathetic way.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

PatrickHenry, November 15 at 1:40 pm #

ITW, you appear to be analizing over Gore being a racist by your interpretation of what he said.

I don’t see it.

Reminds me of the Howard Dean moment and those who spun it much to his detriment.
******************************

We can disagree, even vehemently.  You have a brain. 

Unlike Volksvehrer.

John McCain has a Black child, yet he’s a racist.

I have a brown child, yet I’m a racist.

Why?

Volksvehrer says so.

I want to see a two-state solution. I want to see the Palestinians with their own state. I want to see them prosper.  I want to see Israel prosper.  I want to see them rebuild mutually beneficial economic ties. Only then can both live in peace and prosper.  Yet I’m a racist who “hates Arabs”, no different than the jingoist Likudists, whom I detest.

Why?

Volksvehrer says so.

I have been a total opponent of the Iraq War since before we invaded—and have been castigated for it.  Yet, somehow, Volksvehrer “knows” I supported this war.  I guess he thinks my 5+ years of opposing this war is really some kind of front, and I must “secretly” support it.  No proof. No facts.  He doesn’t need them.

Why?

Volksvehrer says so.

I told you he was brainless.  Blatantly brainless.

‘nuf ced!

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By knowbuddhau, November 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

@Folktruher

Instead of directing your ire at *the comments* of our interlocutors, you abuse others in your every comment.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Folktruther, November 15 at 1:08 pm #

You’re fun, Inherit the Wind. You’re even dumber than my relatives.

I DO call McCain a racist no matter who he is standing next to.  And you as well, because of you’re bigotry against Arabs. No matter what the origins of your child.  You’re idea of racism and socialism, for someone who sincerely takes ideas seriously, is quite astonishing.  How Jews ever got to be so mindless and braindead as my relatives is worth a study all its own.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why do the moderators allow egregious violations?

I petition the moderators of this list for your removal.

You, Folktruther, are bullying OUR shared awareness of Being this right here: OUR shared Becoming.

How is this right here happening?  How is it that these words, which I author right now, although never being spoken, nevertheless you hear them within you right now?

All you do is attack our interlocutors.  Again, I petition the list moderators for your removal.

Folktruther is a bully.  Why do the list moderators tolerate specious ad hominem attacks of this sort?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, November 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

ITW, you appear to be analizing over Gore being a racist by your interpretation of what he said.

I don’t see it.

Reminds me of the Howard Dean moment and those who spun it much to his detriment.

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

Yes…it has become a bitch slap..

felicity—It sesms that so-called liberals love labels , but only when it suits. It we “drop all labels”, would this election still be “historical”. How?

If it is that the neo-cons (label) were soundly defeated, after 8 yrs of their failed policies, ok. But, they were replaced by the other side of the duopoly.

I think saying stuff like “drop all labels” or “we are all the human race’, or, even “
I dont see color” is just bending over backwards to try to show what progressive, non-racists people think that they are—and, of course, eveyone else IS racist and backwards…

IRW—I hate getting in on this, but you really do need some contemporary education about socialism/communism/marxism

one…http://www.romm.org/soc_com.html

“Many Anarchists reject the need for a transitory state phase on the road to a classless society.
Most thinkers[who?] on the left have rejected the fundamentals of Marxist theory, such as historical materialism and the labour theory of value, and gone on to criticize capitalism - and advocate socialism - using other arguments[which?]. Some contemporary supporters of Marxism[who?] argue that many aspects of Marxist thought are viable, but that the corpus also fails to deal effectively with certain aspects of economic, political or social theory.”
(to above link)

The capitalist (moneyist) society we live in today is supposedly individualistic, and this is made to sound positive. In reality the profit based society is one that engenders greed, selfishness, and egotism. It is a society based on the idea of “kill or be killed”, and under capitalism people will do anything to “get ahead”. In the name of profit, the talents and abilities of the vast majority of people are squandered on the production line, or the unemployment line. We don’t have the right to a job, the right to an education, the right to healthcare, the rights that could ensure the bare bones of a civilized existence, let alone the right to express ourselves and contribute, to fulfil our potential.
(compiled from…)

http://www.newyouth.com/archives/theory/faq/what_about_individualism.asp


“The modern working class are the ones who really run the factories and business… are the ones who produce the wealth of society collectively. Yet they do not really share in the reward for their efforts.”

(from above link)

Sure they may receive a few crumbs in the form of bonuses and minor raises, but this is nothing compared to the ‘bonuses’ the capitalists get (it is not uncommon for corporate CEOs to get multi-million dollar ‘Christmas bonuses’!). What is needed is for this wealth to be distributed among those who actually produce it.

“Democratic control of consumption should be as central to the socialist vision as democratic control over production, particularly given popular mistrust that socialism would be a bureaucratic nightmare which treated people as clients rather than citizens.”
(from above link)

“Rationing”—we can do it voluntarily, or wait for it ro be forced upon us by the planet’s limited resources adn the growing power (economic, as well as millitary, and, arguably moral))of more powerful countries.

But, under caspitalism , we are all “consumers”

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By gorn, November 15, 2008 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

It’s incredible how the “intellectual elite” can be so ineffective at communicating with we rabble. They try so hard to be so obscurely clever, they end up tasting toes.

I assume what he was trying to suggest is that Obama, like all modern politicians, is a slave to special interests, and thus his flowery oratory figuratively is merely a rap to the beat defined by his benefactors.

My feeling is he is as wrong about Obama as he was foolish in his choice of a metaphor with (presumably) unintentional racial connotations.

IMHO, you should have followed up to ascertain the intent behind the comment.

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By antispin, November 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

In my opinion, this pipsqueak Gumbel doesn’t deserve such a high perch from which to parry, nor the original opportunity of an interview.  Vidal was being his usual garrulous unguarded self and this asswipe took advantage.  Let the courts sort it out.

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By Arundel, November 15, 2008 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Troublesum wrote:
“Apparently he believes blacks can write prose.  He cited Dawn Powell as one of our best novelists.  Would a racist do that?”

Dawn Powell was white, just saying. And an excellent writer who we wouldn’t have known if not for Gore Vidal.

Look, here’s the thing: Vidal is someone who likes to toss verbal grenades; it’s part of why his writings are engaging. In this case, I think he went for the provocative quip at the expense of sensibilities and sensitivity. It’s regrettable, and apparently he realizes this in denying he said it. 

But let’s face it: as brilliant as he is, he’s a proud, unreconstructed snob of the highest order. But I don’t begrudge him that.  He, more than any other writer I can think of, has spilled the beans and illustrated how real power works, that there really is a ruling class here, despite what we’re taught in school.

His statement seems more about class than race- it’s still wrong on many levels, not least that Obama’s father was not American nor descended from slaves.  I just think it was a combo of wanting to say something outrageous mixed with a bit of a senior moment, honestly.  I don’t think he’s a racist, I think he’s an equal-opportunity misanthrope: he dislikes everone equally. But he’s still a brilliant writer, and we will miss him when he’s gone.

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By Alan MacDonald, November 15, 2008 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

Andrew, not researching any more of this incident than you describe herein, I would guess, having read and shared Gore’s contempt of empire in human history’s arc, and particularly its deadly, and veiled reincarnation today, in America, that Vidal was both fearful and enraged that Obama’s most elitist and wealthy sponsors might succeed again in using this man, or any man, as their next vehicle for their ruling-elite ‘corporatist Empire’—- and that Vidal fully realizes and is ashamed that he did not think another faction of a second and say something like, “Political puppets have a hard time making poetry, when their strings are twisted.”  [Or “Pawns of empire have a hard time with their own poetry, when reading tele-promter scripts”].

Vidal, Nader, and other highly principled progressive revolutionaries against empire at this time in history’s trajectory are consumed with fear that our democratic republic is going to wither before the attacks of a modern guileful global empire, like none in history.  In utter frustration that we may loose again, their hopes and fears may cause some to lash-out and speak too impulsively about the empire, of which Franklin said more politely to a lady, “Yes, now we have our republic, if we can keep it” without even daring to voice his fear that ‘empire’ is the implied devil at the gate.

Franklin was more sensitive and diplomatic in his reply than Vidal, Nader, Pinter, Vonnegut, et al.

But I would allow Vidal the time and seriousness that writing demands of our thoughts, before making any judgment.

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By Ernie, November 15, 2008 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

My heavens, Gore Vidal has been the most eloquent, most persistent, most articulate defender of justice in America’s past half-century.  Read “Lincoln” and you’ll know all about how ‘racist’ he is! Give me a break.  His legacy—for those who actually read more than magazine articles or blogs—is magnificent and is a beacon for our dark age.

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By John Crandell, November 15, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ever since the onset of The Age of Reagan, Vidal has spoken of what he sees as the coming collapse of the republic.

Anyone with at least an economic doubt about that should check out the following article. It will likely become the basis for a major motion picture. Prepare to crap in your pants, folks. It was all foretold by Gore.

http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom?tid=true

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By Saddler, November 15, 2008 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Even if were true that he said that, one line uttered at 83 years of age does not a racist make. In fact to attack him for it considering his monumental past record as a progressive essayist is in fact a moral failing, and to imply that he is some kind of racist snob is a journalistic failing.

Gore Vidal was and is a great mind, but have you listened to him lately? His advanced age has rendered him barely coherent. It is simply mean to pique apart his words at this point, especially if there are not delivered in writing where he would have a chance to think them through.

Shame on you, Andrew.

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By felicity, November 15, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

God almighty I’m sick of ‘labels.’  Ayres the terrorist, Vidal the racist, Obama the sexist, Hillary the femaNazi, Kerry the flipflopper, Al the sigher…How about it, Gumbel, just quote Vidal and leave it at that.

Maybe it’s our limited attention span, our limited thinking processes, our truncated reasoning - whatever it is that’s the cause we moderns plop labels on people willy-nilly and they are forever after their labels. (Evidence is out here that the practice makes for a lot of very bad decisions leading to very bad results - sometimes around for 8 years .)

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By Inherit The Wind, November 15, 2008 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Folktruther, November 15 at 8:48 am #

Inherit, you ignorent lout.  It is understandable why you hate Gore Vidal, being a Zionist racist yourself who has to cover up with deceit the horrors that apartheid Israel is inflicting on the Palestinian people, while Vidal tells unspeakable truths that subvert Amereican, and Zionist, ideology.

Still, you would think that there would be a limit even to your vulgarity, and spare an 83 old man with an honorable lifetime record of opposing the National Security State your brand of filth.  Guess not.

However the defense of Vidal by TD truthers are often more alarming than the attack on him by Zionist racists, like, for exmaple, The NEW REPUPLIC, the Dem equivilent of the Gop Zionist COMMENTARY.

The implication has been mooted TD truthers that Vidal IS racist but that doesn’t matter or is not so bad.  No, he isn’t, and yes it does matter and it is bad.  The worst.  If I thought Vidal racist I would suppport Gumbel.

But Vidal has a strong emotional identification with truth and his account is plausable, supported by a long lifetime of writing.  Consequently I don’t believe anything Gumbel says, including the comments he quotes.

This is not just a personal dipute between two truthers.  It is a conflict between the imperialist and anti-imperialist wings of Progressive American ideology.  The Huffpo is smearing Vidal for the same reason it smeared Nader, both being anti-imperialist liberals and Huffpo supporting imperialism.

I am not a liberal I am a socialist.  But imperialism is a main issue now.  That is why it does Truthdig credit for interceding on the anti-imperialist side.  And that is why Zionist racists like Inherit, who support American and Zionist imperialism, are attacking Vidal.
****************************

No limit to my vulgarity? When you continue to spread lies deliberately about me?  I called you “marxist” months ago—now you admit it: “I am a socialist”.  That means you think you have the right to have me work so you can eat-and you get to have me as your slave.

Racist? My youngest is Central American, of Mayan background, though his mom, me, and our older child are all Caucasian.  That’s as brainless as calling John McCain racist while he’s standing next to his daughter, Brigitte.  But brainless you are, and brainless you’ll be.

Vidal is and always has been a snotty elitist.  Frequently that’s funny, and his piquant observations can be very enlightening.  But, like you (but with brains), Vidal cannot ever admit to being wrong.  All he had to say was, “Y’know, I was being clever and I went too far.  I apologize.  That didn’t come out right.”  and then he could launch his explanation of why slaves don’t have creativity.

Of course he’s wrong. Our whole pop music is a direct outgrowth of slaves.  Rag-time, Blues, Jazz, Rock, Big-band—all of them are descended from slave music.

But Vidal probably only listens to classical music, not that hoi-poloi stuff the rest of us like.  You know, music with a beat.

But I must be wrong, regardless of facts and logic and reason because….

Volksvehrer says so.

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By echovic, November 15, 2008 at 10:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gore Vidal: old and irrelevant.  Its odd how so many TD apologists are distracted by either protecting Vidal, questioning the rascist nature of the statement, being ‘confused’ or somehow finding a way to malign Gumble.  What’s interesting here is the passing of an era where pompous wasp blowhards had much of a say at all in the way things are run.  Its funny but Gore Vidal seems to be the one here providing color here with his zinger, albeit without much of a beat.

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