Jack Betts Hinting at Racism

I'm typically a Jack Betts fan. Yesterday's blog post, however, has left me extremely disappointed. Betts hints at racism in how Democratic leadership has treated Thomas Wright and then waits to the end of the post to back away. From Bett's blog:

House Speaker Joe Hackney’s announcement Tuesday afternoon that the Legislative Ethics Committee and the House will move swiftly to consider expelling Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, made some folks wonder: Why would the House move against Wright when it never took action against former Speaker Jim Black, now serving time in federal prison?

Notice Betts attributes this to "some folks", without getting too specific. Also notice that Betts posts his charge in the form of a question. Both of these are tactics that I'm pretty familiar with. It's convenient to be able to make an accusation or to float an idea and attribute it to nameless, faceless "folks". It's also convenient to make an accusation in the form of a question. Sure this phrasing might help you defend yourself if charged with libel, but it is also a way to conveniently dodge being honest with your readers.

In the second paragraph, Betts quotes Joe Sinsheimer in order to bring in the hypocrisy charge. It's amazing how a writer can avoid actually taking a stand by posing questions instead of making statements and by making assertions through attribution.

Jack, if you're going to write a blog, you need to own your assertions, charges and accusations. Do you agree with Sinsheimer that the leadership's actions are hypocritical? Do you agree with your "some folks" that the Democratic leadership could be treating Wright differently because of the color of his skin? THEN SAY SO and don't wait until the last paragraph to do it. It's your blog, Jack, you get to have an opinion.

Back to the post.

After laying out the charges against Wright, Betts gets to a more direct question of racism and finally answers that question in the negative.

The obvious question is whether there’s a different standard of treatment for a white speaker versus a black legislator who both were accused of felonies. The House didn’t any take action against Black while his charges were pending. Was it race?

In the South you can never totally discount that. But in this case, it’s more likely that House Democrats didn’t move against Black not just because he was their leader and in a position of power, but also because so many members were in his debt.

I'm sorry, say what? At least this time Betts is owning the accusation. Wow. Betts is linking "many" members of the North Carolina House to Jim Black and isn't telling us exactly which ones they are or how they are indebted. Gee, Jack, if you're going to link "many" legislators to a felon, you could at least give us a little more to go on.

Back to the racism charge.

First, Jim Black was never indicted. Thomas Wright was indicted. Jim Black resigned before entering a plea in court. Thomas Wright has refused to resign. Jim Black basically was the Democratic leadership. What was he going to do, ask himself to resign? Quite a few legislators publicly distanced themselves from Black.

Betts, is comparing tangerines to oranges. Close, but no cigar.

Second, the Democratic leadership took a beating over the Jim Black debacle. Might this explain why they aren't waiting for a jury to declare Wright guilty before taking action? Doesn't that sound reasonable?

Finally, Jack Betts needs to get out of his bubble. For him to say,

Was it race?

In the South you can never totally discount that.

is insulting. What a narrow minded, ignorant thing to say. Racism is found everywhere, not just in the south. There are many places in this country where racism is as easily found, if not more easily found. You can't count out racism anywhere and you shouldn't count it out, but you also shouldn't treat it so casually, that it is the first charge out of your mouth or off your fingertips when something happens to an African American.

Oh, and in my opinion, Joe Sinsheimer is just a wee bit tipsy on his own celebrity. Hypocrisy, my fat fanny.

Comments

Well done.

Equivocation and mealy-mouthedness is running rampant in journalism these days.

That said, I'll defend Sinsheimer just a bit. Other leaders in the House, including Hackney, closed ranks and refused to comment on Black when they could have. I'm guessing, however, that Hackney would not be speaker now if he had done so. There's a thread of hypocrisy woven in here somewhere, but it's not about race. It's about power.

It's just like Republicans and Art Pope. Even though he's not elected to anything, no Republican will cross the guy. No one would call him out on his alleged electioneering scams. He has too much money and influence. Republicans are afraid he'll unleash his multi-million dollar opinion manufacturing machine.

The south

Forgot to add that you are so right to call Betts out on that little bit of idiocy.

Oh...sure there's hypocrisy found throughout this ordeal

I just don't think it's found in the Wright/Black comparison. Joe Hackney was speaker for a very short while before Jim Black resigned.

At least I didn't say, "Some people would say Joe Sinsheimer is tipsy on his own celebrity." :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Well, geez

I just didn't read Betts' article that way at all. I thought he rightly addressed the question of whether racism were involved and rightly dispelled it.

As to the crack about the South, well, I could go either way on that. I, too, get tired of the stereotypes, but it is kind of hard to overlook the fact that we have a legacy there.

Having worked on the Gantt campaign, I remember rather well that race did play a key role in his contest with Jesse Helms. I don't think we're as far along as we'd like to be just yet.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

I didn't address this

however, read his headline. He set the tone in his headline. That sits out there by itself and some won't even read his post. He didn't dispel until the end of the post.

"House targets Wright but didn't eye Black"

Sorry, but he sets the tone with the headline. There's his accusation. He might only hint at racism, but he accuses the House of "targeting" Wright.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Hmmm

Well, maybe. It's also possible that Betts didn't come up with the headline. The columnists frequently don't. It's a little on the cutesy side, and Betts have never struck me that way.

But regardless of the headline, I did read the article, and I think most people who are reading the headline would be drawn in (which is why they have people whose jobs are simply to come up with the captions) to reading the article.

I guess I just disagree that Betts was hinting at racism when the thrust of the article was to dispel the rumors that racism was at work.

I once wrote in to Ruth Sheehan at the N&O to object to a headline for one of her columns because I thought it was so misleading, and she wrote back that she agreed but that she didn't come up with it. There is someone on the paper whose job is to do that.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Except that it isn't a column

It is his personal blog and it's a blogspot blog....vewy, vewy simple.

Seriously, if you are going to dispel something, you don't do it in the last paragraph.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Nevertheless

I suspect people may read it differently. I thought it was well reasoned and that his point came through clearly.

I've been reading many years, and I take it Jack Betts has done a fair share of writing. I believe he said what he meant and meant what he said, and that the closing paragraph was meant to persuade.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

:)

You're more than welcome to disagree.

I've been reading for quite a few years as well. Betts has done a fair share of writing and not all of it was up to snuff. This was one of those times.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I appreciate very much

being given permission to disagree.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

You don't have my permission

: )

You MUST agree with me. It is written.

(See? It is written right ^ up there!)

Happy Fried Day.

That's what that check was for!!!

i knew I should have written it for more.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

You wrote this entire thing

without a link to his blog.

Very frustrating for those of us who want to follow along at home. I'm probably just an ignorant slut or something, but I've never heard of Jack Betts before this piece, and I'd like to read his work and decide for myself. So how about a link? :-D


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Sorry, dear.....

Thought I had linked to it.



Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thank you dear.

:) Now I can make up my own mind.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Racism

"Give me a break", as one right wing jerk says. I grew up in NC longer ago than I like to think of, and I cannot remember when the color of one's skin did not work to or against one's fortunes. Well, now we done put all that nasty race stuff to bed, why its like everyone else is also a racist, see we aint different. All these are arguments I heard from a bunch of hick jackassess in bib overalls over a pot belly stove continuing to spout off about why "they" was never gonna integrate and assimilate, let "them" have at our pure white women (ha!!). Race is a fair card to play given that whites play it all the time and in various ways.

The Wright case is not about race -- it is about corruption and crime and fraud. As to Betts, why is anyone else his keeper. Ignore him. And, as to fraud, white legislators have gotten away with far more for far longer and never been so much as gotten a glance, even as they pray loudly in their segregated churches. Wright seems an egregious ass and pompous jerk--must have lots of company in Raleigh and Charlotte, and of course Wilmington.

'Nuff.

wafranklin

 

Race

is not a fair card to play unless you are really holding something (to continue the metaphor).

To pretend that something is racist and call the pretense justified on the basis of past injustices only perpetuates more of the same.

It is also likely to detract from the reality of actual instances of racism, just as a woman who claims to have been raped when she was not raped makes it harder for actual rape victims to make their cases.

It is corrupt to allege a crime where none has taken place. In fact, it's despicable. As serious a problem as racism is, it is certainly corrupt, despicable and insulting to make the allegation as part of some cynical political card game.

Nor does it play very well these days. In fact, it didn't play so well back in the late eighties when Clarence Thomas called himself the victim of a lynching. I don't think it would play well for Wright.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke