Political Animal


August 10, 2012 9:27 AM Mitt Romney and Culture

By Ryan Cooper

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a masterful column today exploring one of his common themes, culture, and how it reflects on Romney’s ignorant slander of the Palestinian people. Having grown up, then made his career, in two dramatically different cultures, he is well-placed to compare and contrast:

When people invoke culture in the Romney manner, what they are really invoking is a scale by which humanity may be ranked from totally dysfunctional to totally awesome. The idea is that culture is a set of irrefutable best practices, when in fact it is more like a toolbox whose efficacy depends upon the job. If you want to create a nation with a dominant entertainment media, perhaps American culture is the way to go. If you’re uninterested in presiding over a nation with 25 percent of the world’s prisoners but only 5 percent of its population, perhaps not.

I’m sorely tempted to quote the final graf, but I won’t spoil it for you. Suffice to say it’s Coates straight slicing fools. Check it out.

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Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper


  • c u n d gulag on August 10, 2012 10:26 AM:

    GOP POV:


    How dare Coates?!?!

    Doesn't he know that America is the mostestest exeptionaliestest of all nations, none of whom are at all anything better than pedestrian?
    After all, who has the most cars, huh? HA!!!

    And we're the mostestest exceptionaliestest because of Jesus Christ, who wrote the Declaration and Constitution, or at least guided the hands of great Conservative Founding Fathers like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln!!!

    And that, when it comes to the rest of the world, we don't take any prisoners!
    And to prove that, we fill-up our prisons to show them there's no room there.

    Mitt Romney is everything that right about America!

    Except that he's not Conservative enough - and that Mormon SOB had better not blow this election because he's insufficiently Conservative enough, or he'll need more than magic underpants to keep him alive!

    But don't worry - we'll have him bite the head off a DFH Liberal's brown gay infant at the Convention, to prove to everyone in the country that he's as rabid as the rest of us are!
    THAT'S what the country wants to see!
    We know, because we told us.

  • Ron Byers on August 10, 2012 10:36 AM:

    If cultural ignorance is bliss, Romney must be one happy, happy man.

    That last paragraph is special.

  • TCinLA on August 10, 2012 12:17 PM:

    Romney's understanding of "culture" is entirely founded on his assumption of White Privilege, his "whiteness." If you want to get a good idea of what this is all about, I suggest you watch the following video, in which Tim Wise, who started the whole study of "whiteness" explains White Privilege:


  • TCinLA on August 10, 2012 12:33 PM:

    Here's some quotes from a Washington Post article on whiteness studies at colleges and universities, that explains what is being discussed:

    Naomi Cairns was among the leaders in the privilege walk, and she wasn't happy about it.

    The exercise, which recently involved Cairns and her classmates in a course at the University of Massachusetts, had two simple rules: When the moderator read a statement that applied to you, you stepped forward; if it didn't, you stepped back. After the moderator asked if you were certain you could get a bank loan whenever you wanted, Cairns thought, "Oh my God, here we go again," and took yet another step forward.

    "You looked behind you and became really uncomfortable," said Cairns, a 24-year-old junior who stood at the front of the classroom with other white students. Asian and black students she admired were near the back. "We all started together," she said, "and now were so separated."

    The privilege walk was part of a course in whiteness studies, a controversial and relatively new academic field that seeks to change how white people think about race. The field is based on a left-leaning interpretation of history by scholars who say the concept of race was created by a rich white European and American elite, and has been used to deny property, power and status to nonwhite groups for two centuries.

    "Historically, it has been common to see whites as a people who don't have a race, to see racial identity as something others have," said Howard Winant, a white professor of sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara and a strong proponent of whiteness studies. "It's a great advance to start looking at whiteness as a group."

    The desire to always feel comfortable in their skin is something white people feel entitled to, said Avakian, who is white. The dominant group wants to control its environment, to own it.

    read more here:


  • Garrett on August 10, 2012 3:31 PM:

    In my wildest dreams, TNC's column takes off and he Wally Pipps David Brooks.

  • boatboy_srq on August 10, 2012 4:27 PM:

    Coates at his best.

    Frankly, Romney and culture only belong in the same sentence when used with medium and petri dish. I'll think a little less badly of him when he starts showing that decency and restraint he keeps demanding of Democrats.