My friend, quite reasonably under the circumstances, objects. A second blogger writes a post in defense of the first blogger, attacking my friend for having the unmitigated gall to defend himself.
My friend has a female friend who frequently argues on his behalf. When she changes her avatar to a photograph of herself, this second blogger asks why she changed her avatar to a photograph of a White woman.
A fourth blogger, in a conversation with my friend, accuses him of "shucking and jiving." Again, interesting choice. There is nothing remotely jive-like about my friend's syntax.
A fifth blogger, in the course of a conversation, tells my friend that he is "no Chauncey DeVega." Mr. DeVega, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, is a blogger here who writes a lot about racial issues. He is, like my friend, Black, and, like my friend, his avatar is a photograph of himself, so this is obvious. What exactly inspired that particular comparison? These two men are nothing alike. They don't generally post about the same subjects.
My friend told me quite some time ago that the fact that his avatar shows that he is Black has a profound effect on how he is treated here on Open Salon. I thought he was exaggerating. The longer I watch, the more I understand that he is not.
My objection is not that some people dislike him. ("Hate" would actually be a more accurate term, at least in a few cases.) That is their right. My objection is not that they criticize him. Again, that is their right.
My objection is that they allow race into their attacks.
That is not their right, regardless of their ostensible civil rights history.
That is not their right, regardless of the identity of their target. Even if their target is a political figure, racism is racism. It is inappropriate by definition. Lest anyone read me sloppily enough to need this disclaimer:
I am not claiming that any given target is off limits because of his/her race;
I am claiming that targeting anyone on the basis of race is off limits.
Allowing race into their attacks also raises the suspicion that their hostility emanates at least in part from racism. All would of course deny this, and have. Deniability would be far more plausible without evidence, particularly evidence that is reinforced by a universal lack of remorse when the nature of the attacks is brought to their attention. If I said something that could be construed as racist to someone, I'd back off in a hurry, even if I hated their guts, because that's not an impression I'd want to leave anyone with under any circumstances.
Nor is it appropriate for observers to tolerate the introduction of race into these attacks when it occurs. We who blog here ultimately define our community, and ignoring this sort of behavior defines it in a way that I suspect most of us would find abhorrent.
Blatant racism should be off limits. If you agree, act it, or take responsibility for what this community's norms become.
My dislike is strictly personal.